El Sereno Dispute Escalates Into Hit and Run

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Two men were struck by a car occupied by three men with whom they had a fight outside an El Sereno supermarket, police said Monday.

The two victims got into a fight with three other men inside the Food 4 Less store at Huntington Drive and Castalia Avenue at around 11:25 p.m. Sunday, said Sgt. Eddie Ortiz of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck Station.

“The fight carried out into the parking lot,” Ortiz said. There, the three suspects got into a car and struck the two victims.

“The victims are going to be OK; they are expected to survive,” he said, adding that the men were transported to hospitals for treatment of their injuries, which he described as “nothing too severe.”

The suspects fled in their vehicle, Ortiz said. Detectives were at the scene looking for leads and officers were canvassing the area in search of witnesses.

If caught, the suspects could be charged with attempted murder, he said.

Former East LA Volleyball Coach Sentenced for Molesting Girls

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A 24-year-old man who admitted molesting two 15-year- old girls he met while coaching volleyball at Esteban Torres High School in East Los Angeles was sentenced Monday to three years in prison.

Jonathan Adam Roldan pleaded no contest in March to one felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse with one girl and one misdemeanor charge of child molestation involving a second girl. Another 10 sex-related counts involving the same victims were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert C. Vanderet ordered Roldan —who worked as a junior varsity girls’ volleyball coach — to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

At the request of the defense, the judge recommended that Roldan be sent to a fire camp to serve his sentence. His placement, however, will be determined by the state Department of Corrections.

Vanderet also ordered Roldan to comply with the terms of a protective order, issued in March, that bars him from contacting either of his victims for the next 10 years.

Pay Up In June, and See DWP Late Fees Go Away

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers who were charged late payment fees this year, could have the charges refunded if they pay their utility bill in full by the end of June.

DWP suspended collection and service disconnection activities in November 2013 as it tried to correct problems with its new customer billing and information system, but will soon resume collection proceedings against customers who are late on paying their utility bill.

According to DWP, the one-time, month-long ‘amnesty’ like program, is intended to encourage customers who have fallen behind on their utility bill to get caught up.

“The Late Payment Charge Credit is another step toward resolving the billing problems that have occurred since the utility company replaced its 40-year old customer information and billing system last year,” the company said.

The billing system changeover “created regrettable problems for too many of our customers, but we are trying to make it right by fixing the problem and offering sensible solutions like the Late Payment Charge Credit,” DWP General Manager Marcie Edwards said.

She added that customers who pay their bill in full by the end of June will receive a refund on their next bill for all late charges paid in 2014. However, if you don’t have the money to pay off your bill in full, Edwards said it’s a good idea to contact DWP and set up a payment plan to avoid your water and power service being cut off.

Since temporarily halting collection activities, More residential and commercial customers have fallen behind on their utility bills since DWP temporarily halted collection activities, and currently there are more than 200,000 customer accounts past due, with an overall outstanding balance of $150 million.

Randy Howard, Senior Assistant General Manager of the Power System apologized for the problems customers have had with the new billing system, but added that DWP has made “significant progress in fixing the problems.” He also said current “outstanding charges are for utility services delivered and deemed correct,” and the company will soon implement a full residential collections process.

 

Customer who have not received a bill but have been using their utilities, should call DWP at  1-800-DIAL-DWP (1-800-342-5397) or online at www.ladwp.com/ContactUs .

 

Less Job Search, More Job Training

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Newly redesigned job resource centers will open throughout Los Angeles this summer with shift in focus to training job seekers for growing industries such as healthcare, advanced manufacturing and logistics, city officials said last week.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said the revamped WorkSource Centers “will focus on making sure Angelenos are prepared to compete in today’s job market.”

“Our redesigned system will better provide supportive services and access to career pathways to ensure our local workforce is ready for the jobs in L.A.’s top growth industries,” he said.

The city is set to unveil 17 WorkSource Centers starting July 1, according to Jan Perry, general manager of the Economic and Workforce Development Department.

The specific locations of the centers, which will be in areas with especially high poverty and chronic unemployment, will be announced before the program’s launch, officials said.

The new program will “prepare and support adult job seekers in their effort to find employment that will provide a living wage job and career opportunities,” Perry said.

Under the new system, job centers organized around training workers for specific industries will replace centers that traditionally have offered employment listings and resume writing assistance to people living nearby, Perry said.

The new job centers will also provide its services online, she said.

People with disabilities, the homeless, veterans, English language learners, older adult workers and formerly incarcerated individuals or people with prior convictions will also get more attention at the new centers, according to city officials.

The Los Angeles City Council last week signed off on $90 million in contracts to operators to run the WorkSource Centers for the next five years, with annual reviews to renew the contracts.

The funding for the program comes from the federal Workforce Investment Act.

Book Looks at History of Mexican American Boxers In L.A.

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A new book featuring more than 200 vintage photographs of Mexican American boxers from the Los Angeles area is the latest addition to Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series, books that for the most part take a snap shot look at historical topics ranging from baseball to artists to politicians in specific regions across the country.

Included in the series are a number of books that focus on the Mexican American experience and influence in the greater Los Angeles area. “Mexican American Boxers in Los Angeles,” written by Gene Aguilera of East Los Angeles, chronicles the history of Mexican American boxers from the early 1900s to the 1990s, from the “Mexican” Joe Rivers to L.A.’s very own “Golden Boy,” Oscar de la Hoya.

Mexican American Boxers in Los Angeles

Mexican American Boxers in Los Angeles

More than 200 photos — some from the private collections of boxers featured in his book — add life to Aguilera’s retelling of the headlines from L.A.’s Golden Age of boxing. According to the book’s press notes, Aguilera researched and collected quotes from different media sources and personally interviewed several of the boxers featured in the book. He shines a light on some of L.A.’s most exciting boxing moments, from title fights to famed venues like the Olympic Auditorium and the Main Street Gym where much of the action took place either behind the scenes or in the ring.

Photos in the book have a nostalgic feel, utilizing the usual sepia tones that are the hallmark of the Images series. It is an easy, yet interesting read that “captures the sociological culture of knockouts, neighborhood rivalries, Mexican idols, posters and promoters” that made their mark during the book’s 90-year look back. Some of the tales are outrageous; there are heartfelt confessions that will appeal to boxing and non-boxing fans alike.

Aguilera says he’s lived and breathed boxing since he was 10 years old. In his book “The Ultimate Book of Boxing Lists,” iconic boxing writer Bert Sugar calls Aguilera “a historian and trusted advisor to many Latino fighters.”

The Montebello Library will hold a talk and book signing with author Gene Aguilera June 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public. The library is located at 1550 W. Beverly Blvd., Montebello, 90640.

For more information, call (323) 722-6551. Mexican American Boxing in Los Angeles is available for $21.99 at local retailers, online bookstores or through Arcadia Publishing by www.arcadiapublishing.com or by dialing (888) 313-2665.

 

Best Father’s Day Gift Could Be Gift of Health

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A fishing pole or a new tie may be traditional Father’s Day gifts, but experts say another important gift could be a conversation with the men in your life about taking control of their own health.

Brandon Leonard, the director of strategic initiatives with the Men’s Health Network, says the time spent caring for and providing for their families can lead many men to neglect their own health care needs.

“Men need to take responsibility for their own health so they can be there for the birthdays and the graduations and the weddings,” says Leonard, “and so they can enjoy life with their family and with their friends as well.”

Leonard says prevention is the best medicine, and creating good habits now will have a huge impact on what happens down the road. As part of Men’s Health Week, he’s encouraging men to get regular check-ups at the doctor, and to think about risk factors for heart disease, as well as different types of cancers and diabetes.

Leonard says men of all ages need to focus on getting regular exercise and good nutrition.

“Getting plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grains and lean proteins is crucial,” says Leonard. “But equally as important is to make a conscious decision to cut back on things like junk food, sweets, and fried foods, because those are certainly going to have an impact on your health down the road.”

Leonard says heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women. As they age, he adds, it’s important for men to stay on top of their blood pressure and cholesterol and get regular screenings for certain types of cancer.

“Continuing to look at things like prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and urinary tract issues are vital as we age,” says Leonard. “An enlarged prostate can become an issue at that point as well.”

Across California and the country, communities are celebrating Men’s Health Week with free screenings, health fairs and other educational events.

Bell Gardens Man Killed 710 Crash

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A man was struck and killed by a pickup truck as he stood outside his stopped vehicle on the northbound Long Beach (710) Freeway in Lynwood, and authorities arrested the pickup truck’s driver.

Amador Espinoza-Medina, 57, of Bell Gardens was killed June 6 at 3:30 a.m. at Imperial Highway, the California Highway Patrol reported.

According to the preliminary investigation, two patrolling CHP officers were told by a passing motorist that a black Ford Explorer was blocking the number 2 lane of the freeway, and they notified their dispatch office and went to investigate, the CHP reported.

“A short time thereafter, the unit arrived on scene to find that the stranded vehicle had been struck by another vehicle, (a) black Chevy Silverado, and (officers) found a body lying in a supine position on the roadway, blocking the number 2 lane,” the CHP said in a statement.

“Through the course of the investigation, it was determined that the driver of the Ford Explorer exited his vehicle at some point and stood in the number 2 lane waving his arms and a ball cap in an apparent effort to draw the approaching motorist’s attention,” the CHP statement said.

The driver of the Silverado, a 38-year-old Los Angeles man, was arrested, the CHP reported.

Decision Striking Down Teacher Tenure Is Right Call

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

 “This court finds that both students and teachers are unfairly, unnecessarily and, for no legally cognizable reason – let alone a compelling one – disadvantaged by the current permanent employment statute.” 

-Judge Rolf M. Treu

 

The reactions from state and Los Angeles teachers unions to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge’s decision striking down state laws governing teacher tenure and when teachers can be fired as unconstitutional were as expected. Sadly, their reactions, such as calling the decision an “attack on teachers,” do little to address the core issue: Current tenure laws contribute to the disproportionate number of inexperienced and bad teachers at schools in low-income communities with large ethnic populations, reinforcing an unequal education system.

We, like the majority of the public, do not believe that all-out warfare has been declared on teachers, nor do we believe the judge’s decision to be unfair or based on misinformation.

Teaching is a noble profession complicated by many societal problems. Teachers can make a profound and lasting impression on our society’s youngest and most precious members, both in positive and negative terms. But recognizing the challenges is no excuse for continuing a system that is more focused on the outcome for the teacher, than the outcome for the student and for society as a whole.

Does that mean we think that measuring teacher performance is easy? Absolutely not.

We recognize that using evaluation strategies designed for other classes of workers make no sense, but neither have the rules that have been used too often to protect poor performing and even dangerous teachers.

It is clear to us that time is needed to evaluate a teacher’s true capabilities, and it will most likely take longer than the 18 months some have proposed, but it should not be a process that can be prolonged indefinitely through appeals and the like.

We have to say we were disappointed by the failure of teacher unions to put forward real solutions and less complicated processes to fire problem teachers and failure to come out with solutions to make it less complicated to fire problem teachers like former Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt in the scandalous child sexual abuse case.

It’s not enough to say the current system was designed to protect teachers from politics and favoritism and call arguments against the system anti-teacher rhetoric,

It should also be noted that the court also found that the present tenure system is also unfair to the many good teachers removed from jobs just to make room for a tenured teacher, regardless if the tenured teacher is as capable.

EGP was one of the first newspapers to support the rights of teachers to organize and we still support those rights today. But we believe that the time has come to reassess teacher hiring and firing practices, and believe Judge Treu made the right decision on a difficult issue that is important to us all.

Our hope is the decision will lead to real dialogue and change, rather then more useless accusations and continued obstruction to change.

Why the Las Vegas Shooters Ran Loose

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

In less than 24 hours after two Las Vegas police officers and a bystander were gunned down by two Neo-Nazi, anti-government spewing white supremacists, Stormfront’s website blew up. There were nearly 200,000 threads and more than 2 million posts. This dwarfed the number of posts from all other topics on the site combined during that period.

Stormfront is the nation’s premier, self-promoted, online meeting place where hundreds of neo-Nazi, anti-government, white supremacist groups and tens of thousands of individuals spew hate with aplomb. The site’s writers lambaste blacks, Jews, gays, and are unabashed in praise of Hitler. They perennially exhort their readers and followers to arm themselves to the teeth against the imagined assault by the federal government on white people’s rights. It was virtually a given that the murders would fire the horde of racists up, and ignite a frenzy of debate, speculation, denial and even veiled acquiescence to the murders.

Jerad and Amanda Miller, the alleged cop killers, were the sort of nut jobs who would be perfectly comfortable with the crowd on Stormfront. That’s the same crowd that lustily cheered on anti-federal government rancher Cliven Bundy. We now know Bundy was the Miller’s hero-patriot whom they were prepared to defend with guns blazing. Bundy was also the hero-patriot of the GOP and the Tea Party until he got into hot water for spewing anti-black slurs. The blunt truth is that the blatant cheerlead of Bundy, and the popularity of Stormfront as a nesting place for white supremacists amounts to a tacit license to kill to legions of hate fringed loose cannons such as the Millers.

In April, the Southern Poverty Law Center which tracks hate groups warned that Stormfront and other online racist hate forums as a virtual Murder INC. More than 100 persons in the last five years have been slain by those who post on its site. It’s not known whether the Millers were one of those posters or readers, since most post anonymously. But that’s less important than how the Millers and their like can make threats, bluster, and commit crimes to indulge their crazed fantasies and wage their looney war against their phantom minority group and federal government enemies. The Millers and Stormfront and the thousands of others that rant, rail, and spew hate in speeches, on websites, in videos and in their fringe, kooky publications are simply exercising their first amendment right; a right that can’t be abridged no matter how scary they sound.

However, even when the Millers are known tracked, monitored and surveilled and worse commit hate acts, they often evade full punishment. This has nothing to do with the First Amendment, but rather muddled, confused, and outright lax enforcement and prosecution of hate acts. Even when the FBI and local law enforcement agencies ID them for their propensity for violence, their hands are still tied.

Federal prosecutors are loath to step on the toes of police and prosecutors in criminal cases no matter how badly the crime is tainted by race, gender or religious hatred. Federal prosecutors flatly say that the hate perpetrators are more likely to be convicted and get stiff sentences in state court.

That makes good legal and political sense.

Yet, that’s not the only reason for their hands off of the Millers. Except in the highest profile cases, they see these prosecutions as no-win cases with little political gain, and the risk of making enemies of local police, DAs, and state officials. Hate crimes may be horrific but they are largely seen as common crimes and are treated as such. Few state prosecutors will chance inflaming racial passions and hatreds by slapping a hate crime tag on a case.

There’s also the belief that hate crimes are mostly a thing of the past. When they do occur, they are isolated acts committed by a handful of quacks, and unreconstructed bigots, and that state authorities vigorously report and prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes.

When Congress passed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990, it compelled the FBI to collect figures on hate violence. However, it did not compel police agencies to report them. Record keeping on hate crimes is still left up to the discretion of local police chiefs and city officials. Many police departments still refuse to report hate crimes, or to label crimes in which gays, Jews, and minorities are targeted because of race, religion, or sexual preference as hate crimes. Still other police departments don’t bother compiling them because they regard hate crimes as a politically loaded minefield that can tarnish their image and create even more political friction. The official indifference by many police agencies to hate crimes prevents federal officials, even if they wanted to more aggressively enforce civil rights laws, from accurately gauging the magnitude of civil rights violence. The Millers slaying of two Las Vegas officers and a bystander will be treated as murder, without the hate attachment. This laxity is just enough space for the Millers of America to run loose.

 

New America Media Associate Editor Earl Ofari Hutchinson is a frequent political commentator on MSNBC and the author of “How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge.” He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter. 

 

How to Get and Keep Women’s Attention and Support

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

 

There is a lot of talk these days about the importance of the women’s vote for the 2014 elections.  Democrats and Republicans alike are courting women voters — Republicans are working as hard as they can to shed their anti-woman image stemming from the 2012 election cycle, while Democrats are working equally hard to shine as the party that fully supports women’s equality.

President Obama is in full courtship mode, speaking out on issues like the gender wage gap, workplace discrimination and sexual assault on college campuses. As well, perhaps, he should: he arguably owes his 2008 and 2012 wins to women voters, and neglecting them may have cost Democrats the House in 2010. Numerous polls show overwhelming support for the Treaty especially among young women and men.

But with control of Congress again at stake, the president should do something bolder to get women voters’ attention. One possibility is to call on the Senate to ratify the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, or the Women’s Equality Treaty.

 

The Women’s Equality Treaty is a landmark international agreement on fundamental human rights and equality for women everywhere. The United States helped draft the pact in the 1970s and signed it in 1981, but remains one of only seven countries that have not ratified it–along with Iran, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, and the two small Pacific Island nations of Palau and Tonga. These are embarrassing bedfellows.

The United States has a long history of leading the global drive for women’s rights. Eleanor Roosevelt helped ensure that the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights included provisions on gender equality. The State Department, especially under former Secretary Hillary Clinton, worked to empower women in development, economics, post-conflict resolution and more.

But it hasn’t been enough. One in every three of the world’s women has suffered violent assault at some point in her life, and women worldwide are denied equal rights to education, health care, work, legal status, and more.

Even in the United States, problems like domestic violence, sexual assault, and workplace discrimination disproportionately plague women.  Ratifying this agreement will not fix these or any other inequalities by itself, but it will give women’s rights advocates another tool to use in pressing legislators and employers to fix them, using our usual democratic processes.

 

And because we have not joined 187 other countries in ratifying the Women’s Equality Treaty, America is blocked from many conversations about women’s rights around the world.

The UN’s committee on the Women’s Equality Treaty, for example, oversees treaty implementation, issuing nonbinding recommendations for action toward gender equality. But committee members can only come from countries that are parties to the treaty. This means we cannot contribute our wide experience or our otherwise strong UN presence to promoting the rights of women.

 

Until we ratify this agreement, we can’t use all the tools available to combat violence and discrimination based on gender. And the treaty is just that – a tool. Some argue that ratification would threaten U.S. sovereignty, but that’s a red herring – the United States has ratified similar treaties under presidents of both parties with no such problem.

The real problem is that some senators flat-out oppose equal rights for women, and President Obama could galvanize women voters by saying so. In an election year, a ratification campaign would ignite instant controversy and excitement. But it might also generate bipartisan support in the Senate, where two-thirds of those present and voting would be needed for ratification.

 

As the president is routinely pointing out these days, U.S. women still are only paid an average of 77 cents for every dollar paid to a man, and they make up only 19 percent of members of Congress.  We believe that voters deserve a clear opportunity to know which of their senators truly are willing to make women’s equality a priority.

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot by the Taliban for defending girls’ education, said, “Some people only ask others to do something. I believe that, why should I wait for someone else? Why don’t I take a step and move forward?” Calling for Senate ratification of the Women’s Equality Treaty would be that step for President Obama.

 

Terry O’Neill, President, National Organization for Women and Don Kraus, CEO, Citizens for Global Solutions.

 

 

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