June 17, 2010 Issue

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Lakers, Celtics Play for Championship Tonight

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The Los Angeles Lakers will face the Boston Celtics in the decisive seventh game of the NBA Finals tonight at 6p.m. Staples Center after tying the series at three games apiece with a pounding 89-67 victory Tuesday night at Staples Center.

A Laker win tonight will keep the NBA championship title in LA, repeating the 2009 win that sent fans to the streets of Downtown Los Angeles in a celebration that went out of control.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa urged Los Angeles Lakers fans yesterday to behave responsibly after tonight’s NBA championship game against the Boston Celtics, to avoid a repeat of the rowdiness and vandalism that followed last year’s final game.

“Our hope is that the people of Los Angeles will understand that the best way to celebrate a victory — and there will be a victory —  on Thursday night is to do so in a way that respects this community,” Villaraigosa told reporters.

Kobe Bryant, pictured here at last year’s victory parade, hopes to repeat the Laker’s championship status with a victory tonight. (EGP Photo by Fred Zermeno)

On Tuesday night, Kobe Bryant scored 26 points as the Los Angeles Lakers evened the NBA finals at three games a piece with 89-67 victory over the Boston Celtics. Lakers forward Pau Gasol fell an assist short of a triple double with 17 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, while fellow forward Ron Artest broke out of a four-game slump by scoring 15 points, making six of 11 shots. Ray Allen led Boston with 19 points.

The Lakers are trying to become the seventh team to overcome a 3-2 deficit to win the NBA finals. Thirty-four teams leading 3-2 have gone on to win the championship.

Police are expected to have beefed-up patrols on hand to prevent problems from developing.

On June 14, 2009, the Lakers sealed an NBA championship with a victory in Florida against the Orlando Magic. That night in Los Angeles, there was a melee outside Staples Center that included a bonfire.

During the various impromptu celebrations that erupted, a shoe store was broken into and cleaned out of its stock; a gas station was looted; a Metro Blue Line train was damaged; a dozen LAPD vehicles and a sheriff’s vehicle were damaged; and six Metro buses were damaged. Several LAPD officers were hurt, and more than a dozen people were arrested.

Yesterday morning, following a year-long probe, investigators in Los Angeles and Riverside counties served 31 warrants and made a number of arrests targeting a tagging crew believed to be responsible for vandalizing a Metro bus during the 2009 melee. The crew is also suspected in various other acts of vandalism in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego and San Bernardino counties.

Dancing for Joy: Ascot Hills Park Redevelopment Begins

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With the sun shining brightly and the temperature rising, city officials and local residents gathered in El Sereno on Monday to celebrate the start of phase-two of the Ascot Hills Park nature preserve open-space development.

The project has been a long time in the making. Plans to preserve the acres of hillside as a passive park for residents have been in the works since 2004. Since then, two groundbreaking events have been held (in 2005 and 2006) and two conceptual designs drafted.

The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) developed the final park design on exhibit at Monday morning’s ceremony.

Honorary El Sereno Mayor Eddie Santillan told EGP he was thrilled that the long-anticipated groundbreaking day had arrived.

“Finally we get some open space and our kids can run around,” Santillan said, noting that while the open space has always been there, it has been off limits to residents.

Academia Semillas Community School Principal Marcos Aguilar (left, in headdress) tells Councilmember Jose Huizar (right) that a hawk had circled the site four times, which he says is a very good sign. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

The $3.3 million improvements to the 94-acre park will include work on 53-acres of land, an outdoor amphitheatre classroom, hiking trails, full stream restoration, irrigation and fire safety and additional parking, according to CD-14 Councilmember Jose Huizar’s office.

Plans for the park were almost derailed when the current economic crisis led to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger freezing time-sensitive Proposition 40 funds needed to move forward.

In 2002, voters approved Prop. 40, the “California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002,” which has raised $2.6 billion statewide for California park and recreation projects like Ascot Hills Park.

The deadline for using the money is March 2011. Because the funds are not currently available and to ensure that they do not disappear, city officials, including personnel from the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Bureau of Engineering, took matters into their own hands rather than send the job out to bid, which would have been a longer process.

“This is not only a ground breaking but a break through. The Department of Recreation and Parks has decided to step in and do the construction themselves. They made this park their number one priority,” Huizar, who represents the area, said. “This action allows us to start work immediately.”

Thanking recreation and park General Manager Jon Mukri and Superintendent Mike Shull, Huizar said the department had “saved the day.”

Mukri pointed out the contributions of the Ascot Hills Park Advisory Board, and others not present at the event like Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the area’s councilmember when the project first began, and former Department of Water and Power General Manager Ron Deaton who wanted to give the former DWP training site back to the community. Mukri also praised Shull for thinking out of the box when obstacles arose.

“The councilmember said it was my number one priority, it was. We ran into some roadblocks with the state, we ran into some bureaucratic roadblocks within our city, then all of a sudden we lost 2,400 people through early retirement,” Mukri said. “But Mike [Shull] figured out a way to make this thing happen, Mike made this happen. He got contractors together and he came to me and said ‘Jon we gotta get this going, we owe it to the community, we’re gonna loose money if we don’t do this.’

“Mike you did this today, and you’re part of history in this park too. I know it’s a team effort…” Mukri said before being interrupted by someone in the audience who suggested Shull be given a raise, to which Mukri jokingly replied, “He’s not getting furloughed.”

Mukri said they would make Ascot Hills Park “the premier open space in the Los Angeles Park system” and asked the Park Advisory Board to help residents understand the value of the open space, and to treasure it, not trash it.

The hills that feature a 360-degree panoramic view of the San Gabriel Valley, surrounding mountains and downtown LA, were once threatened for development. The area is home to wildlife like owls, hawks, squirrels, reptiles, coyotes, and rabbits.

Neighborhood residents Carlos and Olivia Arias are excited about the direct health benefits the park will have for the residents. The couple has lived in the area for 52 years and are members of the El Sereno Seniors Club, and say they look forward to taking walks in the park for exercise and bringing their athletic teenage grandsons to the park when they visit.

Bell Gardens Councilwoman Fined for Shoddy Accounting

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The California Fair Political Practices Commission on June 10 fined a Bell Gardens council member for violating the Political Reform Act in 2005 and 2007.

The FPPC, a government body that enforces political campaign, lobbying, and conflict of interest laws, ordered Jennifer Rodriguez, the city’s current Mayor Pro Tem, and two members of her campaign committee, to pay a $7,500 fine on four counts they did not contest.

Mayor Pro Tem Jennifer Rodirguez

According to the complaint, the other respondents are Rodriguez’s father, Rogelio Rodriguez, who served as treasurer of her campaign committee during the 2005 election in which she supported two other candidates through nonmonetary contributions, and Gerardo Rodriguez, her husband, who was the treasurer during her successful 2007 re-election campaign.

The FPPC charged Jennifer and her father with failing to report expenditures of more than $5,319 on their January to June 2005 semi-annual campaign statement. The expenditures consisted of mailers, phone banks, polling and campaign workers’ salaries to support current Mayor Priscilla Flores’ and former councilmember Mario Beltran’s inaugural campaign to win seats on the council.

The second count accuses Jennifer and Gerardo of failing to maintain detailed accounts, records, bills and receipts needed to prepare campaign statements for the January to December 2007 reporting period.

Counts three and four accuse all three of failing to timely file a pre-election campaign statement in September 2007 and failing to maintain detailed accounting for the January to December 2008 reporting period.

Roman Porter, Executive Director of the FPPC, told EGP the three signed an admission of guilt and waved their right to a hearing.

On Tuesday, Rodriguez told EGP the violations were unintentional errors and there was no intention to do wrong.

“It’s not that I pleaded guilty…the committee, when I first came into council, was not aware that there were things that were allowed, and not allowed to spend on. There was no malice on my part to hide anything, or not report anything, it was just the way that it was filed that was wrong,” she said.

Rodriguez, who has represented the city since 2003, says the contributions and expenditures were filed, but filed incorrectly and that is what the fine is based on.

“I’ve represented this community with great pride and there’s always been transparency, I wasn’t aware of how it was supposed to be reported—again it was reported but it was not reported appropriately—there was no intention to hide anything.”

Rodriguez says she now has professional help to keep track of her campaign finances.

“My conscious is clean just as it always has been, I continue to represent the community with honesty,” she said.

EGP received a press release over the weekend that indicated a protest against Rodriguez would take place before Monday night’s council meeting, but the protest never materialized. Rodriguez said she did not attend Monday’s meeting due to a death in the family.

After the meeting, Councilmember Daniel Crespo, Rodriguez’ political rival, told EGP the violations Rodriguez committed were comparable to those of Beltran who was forced to resign from office under a plea deal on campaign fund embezzlement charges last year.

The FPPC has not indicated criminal wrongdoing on the part of the Campaign to Elect Jennifer Rodriguez and did not impose the maximum penalty of $5,000 per violation, which would have been amounted to a $20,000 fine. The FPPC ‘s executive director told EGP on Tuesday that the case is now closed.

EGP’s calls to Mayor Priscilla Flores, whose campaign benefited from Rodriguez’s contributions, were not immediately returned.

Post-traumatic Stress Can Alter Immune System, Study Finds

June 17, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

While most closely identified with military service, post-traumatic stress disorder does not just affect soldiers say researchers. It is a condition also seen in people who have suffered some other horrible event.

University of Michigan researchers say they’ve identified what appears to be a crucial step in the chain of biological events leading to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Their findings support the idea that exposure to a horrifying event can trigger genetic changes that alter the body’s immune system, leading to post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder that develops in some people who’ve been exposed to terrifying events that involve the threat of serious injury or death.

“We think we have uncovered a key biological step in the process that leads to PTSD,” said Monica Uddin, a molecular epidemiologist at the U-M School of Public Health’s Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health.

“Diseases in general, and psychiatric diseases in particular, involve an interplay between social and biological factors,” said Uddin, an assistant research scientist in the U-M Department of Epidemiology and lead author of a paper published online last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“In the case of PTSD, traumatic events can get under your skin and literally alter your biology, with significant physical and mental consequences,” she said. “That’s the main message of this paper.”

The researchers used data from the Detroit Neighborhood Health Study, a five-year project funded by the National Institutes of Health. They examined more than 14,000 genes using DNA in blood samples supplied by 100 Detroit residents. Twenty-three of those individuals suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The researchers identified numerous genes – most of them involved in regulating the immune system – that appeared to be more active in people with PTSD. Previous studies have posited a link between altered immune function and PTSD. The new U-M findings support that model and go a step further by identifying a specific biochemical reaction that may be involved.

That biochemical reaction is a process called DNA methylation, in which methyl groups (CH3 groups) are added to some of the molecular letters that spell out the genetic code. DNA methylation can alter gene activity, typically reducing it.

For technical reasons, the U-M-led research team could not directly measure gene activity in this study. So they used methylation patterns as a proxy for gene activity and compared the signatures found in PTSD sufferers to those without the disorder.

They found that methylation levels of immune-related genes were lower in the PTSD group, indicating increased activity in those genes. That finding supports a model for PTSD in which exposure to a traumatic event changes gene expression, which in turn boosts immune-system activity, leading to the disorder.

“To the best of our knowledge, there have been no studies to date that have documented differences in epigenetic methylation patterns among persons with vs. without PTSD,” the authors wrote.

The findings have potential implications for the treatment of PTSD. Since DNA methylation states are changeable, it’s conceivable that genes identified in this study could become targets for new drug therapies to treat PTSD, Uddin said.

50 Years Later: Students Honor Teacher Behind Bell Gardens’ Trees

June 17, 2010 by · 7 Comments 

When a self-described “trouble-maker,” the school’s “only Chinese” kid, and their horticulture teacher got into the newspaper fifty years ago, it was just one highlight in a defining period in their lives.

The former Bell Gardens High School students and their teacher were being honored for completing a three-year long project that launched the Los Angeles County’s first ever “plant a tree week.”

Fifty years later, the 300 trees that came out of this project still line Ira Avenue and Jaboneria Road in Bell Gardens. The trees with their purple blossoms provide shade and a splash of color for the residential neighborhood located a few blocks from the high school.

When recalling specific details about the time, Thomas Sheehan, the “skinny guy in glasses” pictured in the newspaper, complains that he “can’t remember back that far,” but the impact that his horticulture teacher Henry Miller had on his life is something he has not forgotten to this day.

The 50th anniversary of the planting of those trees, the first of which was planted Mar 8, 1961, was an excuse for Sheehan and Fred Wong, the other student pictured in the newspaper, to honor their former teacher.

Sheehan drove nearly 600 miles from Northern California, while Mr. Miller’s children and grandchildren came in from Phoenix, AZ for the occasion. Wong, who is based in Los Angeles, organized the reunion held June 4.

Henry Miller's horticulture class tree planting project made front page news in the Los Angeles Times Mirror in 1961. Former students of Tom Sheehan, left, and Fred Wong, right, are pictured telling Bell Garden's Mayor Pro Tem Jennifer Rodriguez about the history of the trees.

Sheehan still considers the eventual closing of the horticulture program “one of the biggest mis-justices that ever was done in the Montebello Unified School District.”

Up until the 1930s, Bell Gardens, like many other places in Los Angeles County was primarily agricultural, but by the time Sheehan began taking horticulture classes in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there was talk of closing the program to make room for other programs.

Even so, the community’s enthusiasm for the students’ handiwork in making corsages, and bouquets, and the large crowds that came out for the students’ flower show competitions, meant that horticulture was a “curriculum that was needed then,” and it still is in some cases, Sheehan says. “You kids, now, know what potato chips are. But how many of you know what a potato is, where it comes from?”

But it meant even more to the students that Mr. Miller was a teacher who didn’t just “put in his time,” according to Sheehan, who would never have dreamed he could accomplish something like the tree planting project.

“I just was one of those – I was always the ‘why.’ ‘Why this, why do I got to do that?’ I always wanted an answer. I wasn’t troubled. I just wanted to know why… So Mr. Miller kind of took me under his wing and kind of showed me there’s other reasons and other ways to find out ‘why’… My way was kind of direct. ‘Tell me why or I’m going to pull your throat out until I got an answer why,’” Sheehan says.

Mr. Miller was able to get through to him, as well as to others who came from worse situations such as abusive or dysfunctional homes. He had a way of getting students’ attention and letting them know that “they had worth in themselves,” he says.

Most of the students that took Mr. Miller’s horticulture classes were not bound for college, but many later did go because he encouraged them to attend agriculture and horticulture programs at Cal Poly Pomona, Wong says.

“He kept people that were headed for trouble, got them on a straight line, and kept them out of trouble, and gave them a future. That’s mainly what it was,” Sheehan says.

The students connected with Mr. Miller, who “always had an interesting story to tell.”

“He’d threaten us, ‘You guys are going out to work on the compost bin,’ and we’d say ‘Aw, come on, Mr. Miller, tell us a story or sumthin’,’” Sheehan says.

The students also took pride in Mr. Miller’s status in the horticultural community. “He had pull,” Sheehan says. Before helping to create MUSD’s horticultural program, Mr. Miller who started as a science teacher at Bell Gardens Intermediate, had his own horticulture “TV program” on trees and planting.

According to Mr. Miller’s daughter Amy Balch, his house was “like a park, it was beautifully landscaped,” and inspired the rest of the community to work on their own gardens.

Students in his class literally got to enjoy the fruits of their efforts, which they entered into flower show competitions judged by experts in the landscaping and horticulture field as well as the celebrities of the day. The shows, which were held on high school grounds, also attracted “enormous” lines of people.

“You saw an accomplishment of what you did in that class, and when you did your flower shows and you saw the beauty and the people come through and how they really enjoyed what you did, what you made,” Sheehan says, “You know. You made things look nice and people appreciated it.”

Sheehan and classmate Wong helped with the county’s first ever tree-planting project, an idea proposed by Mr. Miller as a way to beautify the city. The entire class helped plant the trees.

Many tree-planting projects these days begin with tree saplings getting trucked in and planted by volunteers, but the growth of the trees that were planted in Bell Gardens fifty years ago all started under the care of Mr. Miller’s students.

The three-year project began with students climbing trees to collect seedpods. Sheehan chose jacaranda trees, while Wong, nicknamed “Mr. Green Thumbs,” contributed rubber trees, which not many students were able to grow successfully.

The students nursed the seeds first in small plastic cups, then gallon jugs. Then they were put into the soil, until, in their senior year in high school, when the trees had grown to about three feet tall, they were finally “ball-rooted” out of the ground in burlap potato bags and transferred to the street.

The entire effort was funded by community donations, and even out-of-pocket by Mr. Miller. “If it was not enough, Mr. Miller chipped in,” Wong says.

While many students went on to jobs in landscaping and horticulture fields, whether it was growing trees in Oregon or working for the city of Whittier, neither Wong nor Sheehan who both did well in class and at flower show competitions, pursued the field.

Sheehan, who planned to go to Cal Poly Pomona, ended up joining the Air Force because he could not find a job in time to pay for his tuition. “There wasn’t any scholarships at the time,” he says.

Wong, who spent all his after school hours until 9 p.m. working at his father’s grocery market in Bell Gardens also didn’t go onto Cal Poly Pomona because his father refused to fund an education so that he could “grow vegetables.”

But Mr. Miller affected their lives in other ways. His patient approach with his students “changed my ways of thinking and doing things,” Sheehan says.

In later years after the program closed, students would come out to class reunions just to see Mr. Miller, who passed away ten years ago, according to Sheehan.

Mr. Miller was able to help his students leave a mark on their community. Sheehan continued to care for the trees for several years while serving in the Air Force after graduation.

“Every time I would come home on leave, I would go check my trees and knock on people’s doors and say ‘Hey, you need to do this or this about your tree. If you can’t do this, you need to call Mr. Miller,’” Sheehan says.

The news about his check-ups would travel to Mr. Miller, who, knowing immediately, would tell his wife, “Tommy’s home on leave.” It also meant he would be getting a visit from his student soon.

On Sheehan’s latest trip home, he thanked Mr. Miller: “You were able to show me what I was able to do with your help and guidance. I didn’t think I could do it before and you showed me it could be done… When you grow something like that from nothing, that’s quite a bit.”

Thomas Sheehan, left, and Fred Wong, right, revisit the trees that they planted 50 years ago with the help of Bell Gardens High teacher Henry Miller. (EGP Photo by Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou)

At-Risk Youth Fair Better When Dad Is Involved

June 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

As the nation gets set to celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, Project Fatherhood will host its annual one-day conference tomorrow, June 18 to educate professionals and community members about its program to engage more fathers in the lives of their children.

The 3rd Annual Fatherhood Solution Conference is the latest effort to bring the training program developed by Project Fatherhood to local communities. This year’s theme is strengthening relationships between fathers and their at-risk children.

The project was started in 1996 by Hershel K. Swinger, a senior vice president of the Children’s Institute, Inc to provide a local solution to the problem of absentee fathers.

“Fathers have long been left out of the discussion when it comes to dealing with problems in the family,” Swinger said. “We want the fathers to come to the table.”

Swinger said he believes that problems within a family unit can work out better if the father is both present and active.

“Fathers are more likely to be the solution, not the problem,” he said.

This year’s conference will feature workshops on issues such as gang members as fathers and skills to help incarcerated men reentering into society. Swinger said that this year they will introduce a new workshop on fathers in the military. Swinger cited an article he read about violence in the minority community as a basis for his initial drive to develop the Fatherhood Project. He recalled that the article discussed how boys with a good relationship with their father were less likely to become involved in criminal activity.

According to data from the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (www.fatherhood.gov) there is an estimated 64.3 fathers across the nation. The number of children who live absent their biological father is 24 million, 34 percent. Data collected from various fatherhood initiatives show that an absent father is a more reliable predictor of criminal behavior than race, environment or poverty.

The National Fatherhood Initiative, developed and implemented in the late 1990’s found that children with involved fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school. Those children are more likely to have a healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy, and criminal activity compared to children who have uninvolved fathers.

The Fatherhood Project received federal funding to implement a community grants program to deliver its training to community-based organizations throughout Los Angeles County. For local residents interested in the program, the MELA Counseling Services Center, Inc., (www.melacounseling.org) received a grant several years ago to administer the Fatherhood Project program. MELA is located at 5723 Whittier Blvd in East Los Angeles.

The 3rd Annual Fatherhood Solution Conference will take place at the Radisson Los Angeles Westside Hotel in Culver City from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 pm. The price of admission is $85. Swinger said the audience from last year’s conference was split between professionals, such as social workers, educators, psychologist and law enforcement personnel and general members of the community.

This year’s keynote speaker is Darryl S. Inaba, who is the director of education and training for CNS Productions, Inc. Inaba is an expert in innovative drug treatment, particularly for Asian and African-American communities. Featured speakers at the conference include LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines and Marvin J. Southard, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

For more information or to register for the conference, go online to  www.childrensinstitute.org.

State Budget Missed Again: What A Surprise

June 17, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

When does a missed deadline become no deadline at all? The State Legislature for the 24th time has failed to pass a budget on time to meet the new fiscal year that starts on July1.

The deadline has been missed so many times that Californians hardly take notice.

That is, unless, they are expecting a check from the state and it is held up.

There are serious consequences for not passing a budget on time for the state’s already cash poor budget.

While we cannot see how California’s bond ratings could get any worse, (experts say it can and will), the millions of dollars in added interest costs means even fewer dollars available to pay for state services and programs. And like it or not, taxpayers are on the hook for all those wasted dollars.

It is time that our elected officials find the wherewithal to pass a budget quickly.

Facing the November elections, we are sure there are many in the Legislature who will find it hard to come to some agreement with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and their colleagues on the other side of the aisle — no matter which side they represent — on how to cap the $19.1 billion budget deficit that needs to be closed.

The decisions on whether to tax, or not tax, or how much to cut, or not to cut, appear to have paralyzed Sacramento. The issue is not that Democrats, Republicans and the governor are sticking to their guns, rather that the real problem is all sides are just too afraid to shoot for fear of striking themselves in their backside with the state’s electorate.

We’re sure they all could care less about a deadline that for nearly a quarter of a century has been viewed as a floating target, when faced with the prospect of angry voters.

Polarized California residents and businesses also have a hand in the current dysfunction. With an unwillingness to compromise, standing firm for either no new taxes, or lots of new taxes to prevent any cuts, is it any wonder our elected officials are running scared?

So as state officials fail again to meet their fiscal responsibilities, we can’t help but ask: Does this mean California taxpayers can also miss tax payments without a penalty?

Not on your life.

Southeast Water Reliability Project Means Regional Sustainability

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Anyone who lives in Southern California knows that water is an important lifeline commodity in this desert-like region. It was water that made it possible for this region to become the economic powerhouse it has been for decades. And it is water that will enable us to continue to lead the way into the future — if our water supplies remain secure and reliable.

Today, we are being challenged like never before in ensuring the continued flow of water into our cities. Southern California gets most of its water, at a cost, from three sources outside the region, and the water must travel miles from its origins to its destination.

Fortunately, Central Basin Municipal Water District is taking steps in the right direction to effectively offset this water challenge. In January, we began construction of the 15-mile long Southeast Water Reliability Project (SWRP) to complete a “loop” of pipelines that eventually will connect to Central Basin’s existing recycled water system.

SWRP will enable Central Basin to expand recycled water use locally, which is a cost effective way to reduce our reliance on imported water throughout southeast Los Angeles County.

In addition to improving our water independence, this project is having an important impact on revitalizing the local economy. Over the life of the project, SWRP will create hundreds of new jobs in fields like engineering, construction, manufacturing and maintenance. Business revenues generated by this project will total $37.1 million and total tax revenues generated will total $1.5 million.

SWRP is also helping Central Basin meet the statewide conservation goals set by the California Legislature in 2009, to reduce daily per capita water use 20% by 2020. Recycled water use has proven to be the most effective method of water conservation. Expanding the regional use of recycled water through this project will help protect our limited water supplies for future use, while helping to ensure that as a region we are well-positioned to withstand future drought.

Central Basin’s current recycled water program delivers 5,000 acre-feet of recycled water annually to more than 200 large water users, including industrial and irrigation sites throughout the service area. Once completed, SWRP will bring another 5 billion gallons of recycled water annually to meet local demands, and will conserve as much as 12,000 acre feet of water per year.

Finally, SWRP has qualified for $5.6 million in federal stimulus funding and $3.5 million in California Proposition 50 Funding and for good reason — it is creating jobs, helping the environment, helping to secure the region’s water supply, adding to the regional infrastructure and bringing lasting economic benefits. It is a clear win-win for the District, its customers and the communities we serve.

For more information about this project and other programs at Central Basin, please visit www.centralbasin.org or call our project hotline at (888) 341-5707.

Art Chacon is the Director of Division III for the Central Basin Municipal Water District, representing the Cities of Bell, Commerce, Huntington Park, Maywood and Walnut Park, and portions of Cudahy, Monterey Park and unincorporated East Los Angeles.

I Fight, Therefore I Am

June 17, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

America has more than its share of fools. Among them are Republicans who are turning a simple problem of less than four percent of our population who are illegals into a fractious issue splitting the Party and the USA.  Remember abortion?

These people pooh-pooh any outreach to Hispanic voters because they aren’t Republicans so why should Republicans pay attention to them, why?

Any Republican who asks that is brain dead. That includes Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other ignorant media types who in this case manifest total ignorance of critical facts.

Despite their abhorrence of facts, here they are.

In every Presidential election since 1968 in which Hispanic votes and voters have been counted and studied, if 35 percent or more of the Hispanic vote voted Republican, the Republican won. That includes Richard Nixon, twice; Ronald Reagan, twice; George H.W. Bush, once and George W. Bush twice. During this Republican Epoch, only one Democrat denied Republican candidates their normal 35 percent slice of the Hispanic vote.

That was Jimmy Carter. Clinton did also but he only became President courtesy of Ross Perot. Without Perot, Bush would have won easily. Clinton never reached 50 percent of the vote.

So, when Rush Limbaugh makes one of his famously stupid statements like Republicans don’t have a chance to get 50 percent of the Hispanic vote, he displays ignorance beyond belief. Republicans don’t need 50 percent of the Hispanic vote to win the Presidency; they only need 35 percent (that’s seven times the black vote for John McCain who did receive 31 percent).

Despite this history of success in electing Presidents with Hispanic help, there seem to be Republicans like Limbaugh who are intent on running Hispanic Republicans out of the Party like they have done with blacks over the years. 50 percent of blacks voted for Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, less than five for McCain.

Rabid anti-Hispanic Republicans feed the anti-illegal and legal immigrant atmosphere like that of Arizona as they did in California in 1994 when they managed to put Proposition 187 on the ballot. It purported to deny state benefits to illegals. It made the ballot because the California Republican Party shelled out $350,000 for its petition signature gatherers. It did so under direct orders from then Governor Pete Wilson. His advisors deny Wilson’s complicity but the Party would never spend that kind of money without the personal approval of Governor Wilson.

The anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican Prop. 187 sealed Republican fates in California. The Party hasn’t been given anything near a majority vote for any office other than the Special Election win of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steve Poizner’s multi-million dollar purchase of the minor-league State Insurance Commissioner’s office. According to experts, not a single congressional district – of 54 -in the state has a Republican majority.

Joining these poisonous and bigoted minded 1994 people are the 2010 version. They constantly write this writer with tirades about Republicans blasting me and other Hispanic Republicans and how we are being driven out of the Party.

That may be the intent of these people but I will not surrender and I will not turn my back on the Party I have supported since I was 11 years old and wore an “I Like Ike” button to school in the 7th grade.

I draw the line here and now. I will fight.  I am not alone. Republican voters in Idaho nominated Raul Labrador for Congress and his victory stunned everyone including the nut cases. In New Mexico, Republican voters made political history this primary when they voted for county District Attorney Susanna Martinez for Governor and John Sanchez for Lt. Governor. Never has the state had a Republican ticket of Hispanics for Governor and Lt. Governor. In fact, the Democrats never have either.’

New Mexico, by the way was the second state to have a Hispanic Governor, California was the first. Both were Republicans. California joins the Hispanic Republican uprising this year with Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado.

Next door Nevada nominated Brian Sandoval for Governor, too.

But never have Hispanic Republicans been more prominent than this year, nor any other year, than in Florida where Miami-born Marco Rubio announced for the U.S. Senate when Florida Governor Charlie Crist had a lock on the nomination to succeed Mel Martinez in the Senate.

Rubio’s star power and charisma have passed his political experience with a burst of energy that has driven the Governor from the Party and set Rubio up as a Republican comer that some are already touting for President.

My fight is reinforced by Florida’s Rubio, New Mexico’s Martinez and Sanchez, Idaho’s Labrador, Nevada’s Sandoval and California’s Maldonado. We will not lose this fight.

I might someday be the last Hispanic Republican standing but I will still be fighting as long as I breathe.  Comprende?

Raoul Lowery Contreras’ books are available at amazon.com

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