Enjoy the 4th at Your Local Park

June 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

We hope celebrating our Independence Day on the Fourth of July still has some patriotic meaning to Americans.

But contrary to what we see these days, true patriotism is not about public displays of red, white & blue, or boisterous claims of America’s greatness. True patriotism is the respect for the values contained in our Constitution.

Lately, since the immigration issue has again become such a hot button issue, the words “rule of law” are being bandied about by Americans who are using the phrase to disparage undocumented immigrants in the country.

But like most sayings, the words are only worth spouting when it suits our personal interests, or when we agree with the meaning given to the words by the person voicing them.

For a month now, residents of Los Angeles County have been setting off illegal fireworks; what part of illegal don’t they understand? Why aren’t people respecting the “rule of law?”

The illegal use of fireworks is a danger to us all.

We shudder to think that there are trucks full of these fireworks sizzling in the noonday sun, ready to explode and take out an entire neighborhood.

Last 4th of July, use of so-called “safe and sane” fireworks put the entire city under such a thick layer of smoke that it seemed the area had been heavily bombed by some insane terrorist, rather than our neighbors just having a good time.

Babies, sick or afraid residents, and of course dogs, cats and birds were terrorized by the loud blasts into the wee hours of the next morning.

The profusion of M80’s and other large bomb like fireworks had us wondering if people had decided to forgo paying their July rent or mortgage to pay for the expensive explosives. How much money just went up in smoke?

As we have done for more than 30 years, we are publishing in this week’s pre-Fourth of July edition a list of local public celebrations with professional fireworks displays taking place over the next week. We urge our readers to attend one of the many large and exciting public firework displays at local parks, rather than trying to do it yourself in your backyard.

On June 5th, we hope everyone wakes up with homes, body parts and autos in tact. And as always, if you are going to drink, make sure you have a designated driver.

Remember, the “rule of law’ is not just for someone else, it applies to you as well.

Happy Fourth of July!

Budget Cuts Threaten Health Care Access to California’s Kids

June 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders announced a budget deal that unnecessarily jeopardizes the health of California’s children. The deal includes the administration’s original proposal to eliminate the Healthy Families Program, and shift nearly 900,000 children enrolled in it to Medi-Cal next year.

Given the state’s fiscal climate and sluggish economy, it’s clear that policymakers need to make difficult budget choices. But it is shortsighted to shift all of those children out of a popular and successful program, with no guarantee that they’ll actually be able to access the care they need in their new coverage. Finding timely medical care will especially be a challenge for children in rural areas, more so if they speak languages other than English. Getting dental care will be even more difficult.

It has long been a challenge to ensure that all children in Medi-Cal find an appropriate primary care provider or a specialist in their area and get an appointment in a timely fashion. So what will happen when hundreds of thousands of additional children also try to access the same care and providers?

As a state, we should be improving health coverage for the 4.5 million California children who currently rely on Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, not put them at risk by balancing the budget on their backs. Make no mistake. Such strategies will only create wider budget gaps in the future if kids aren’t able to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy and succeed in life.

That’s why health care providers and consumer advocates are extremely disappointed in this unprecedented and reckless budget decision. We think there are better choices that don’t risk children’s health: A coalition of more than 40 organizations have endorsed an alternative proposal that would have transitioned a smaller group of children and provided strong protections and safeguards to improve children’s access to care.

California needs to get its priorities straight. We should be putting children first and finding “pro-kid” budget solutions that invest in our children and their future.

Mike Odeh is a health policy advocate at Children Now in Oakland, Calif.

One Decision’s Impact on My Community

June 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The U.S. Supreme Court could decide as soon as today the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the most sweeping health care overhaul since the arrival of federal Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

And while the stakes are high both for our country and our state, the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision will likely be most noticeable to communities like the one I work in every day– South Los Angeles.

The promise of affordable and quality health care is critical to a community where nearly 34 percent of residents are uninsured, one of the highest rates in the state. Why, because as it stands our neighborhoods in South Los Angeles have LA County’s highest rates of disease and premature deaths from preventable conditions like diabetes, lung cancer and heart disease.

My neighborhood is not unlike many other communities across Southern California with high rates of uninsured and people in need of preventative care services.

With the Affordable Care Act in place, nine out of ten Californians will have access to insurance in 2019, and it is very likely that those rates of premature and preventable illness will decline. Without the law, it is likely that those preventable conditions will persist, that people will continue to flood emergency rooms for basic care, and that costs will continue to escalate for many of the city’s poorest residents.

Even with the law, there are two pressing issues facing the people I work with on a daily basis: coverage for undocumented residents and the primary care physician shortage. Only if we address these two issues do we ensure health care access for all.

Undocumented residents are not eligible for health insurance under the Act. They are not offered Medicaid and denied low-income subsidies to purchase entry into state health exchanges. As a result, they will continue to seek care in safety net healthcare systems for the uninsured. Without coverage, these individuals, who constitute a growing percentage of our population and who are part of the fabric of our community, greatly impact our health care system. In any of the post-ACA decision scenarios, we need to have comprehensive and honest conversations to provide community-based, culturally competent solutions.

And after we fight to expand coverage for all we are left with a profound primary care shortage. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates a shortage of approximately 21,000 primary care physicians in 2015, and South Los Angeles already has one of the highest shortages of health care professionals. An increase in the number of insured and the growing elderly population places a burden on the workforce.

An essential solution to the shortage is to expand medical education in underserved communities. After all, key determinants of where physicians practice include where they are from and where they obtain their medical training. We need to incentivize them with expanded scholarship and loan repayment programs for those that choose to serve in primary care.

Other solutions include the creation of new practice models, such as patient-centered medical homes, technology improvements, adding additional primary care residency training slots, as well as a greater reliance on nurse practitioners and physician assistants who provide significant access to primary health care services, particularly in underserved communities.

No matter the Court’s decision, South Los Angelenos, and all underserved communities, should have quality care by a workforce that is trained and employed to help all of our residents. I urge California to push ahead to implement elements of the Affordable Care Act to bring coverage to millions more people and curb skyrocketing health costs.

The problems faced by the underserved don’t go away, so let’s not ignore them, let’s do something about it.

Dr. David M. Carlisle is President of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian, medical and health sciences institution in the Watts-Willowbrook area of South Los Angeles.

Montebello Police Officers Slap Chief With Lawsuit

June 28, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Four Montebello police officers who took part in a 2009 lawsuit against the city’s previous police chief, slapped the city with another legal grievance this month over the alleged remarks and actions of the current police chief.

The lawsuit, filed on June 11, details a litany of allegations, most of it against Police Chief Kevin McClure, who assumed his post in 2011. The city of Montebello, and several other police officers in the department are also named in the suit.

The four officers in the lawsuit claim McClure passed over minorities when promoting officers; took down African American art from the department’s office walls; dismissed cultural diversity training as a “bunch of sh–;” called African Americans “dirty” and women “MILFs” (a derogatory sexual reference); and ignored the officers’ attempts to report potentially illegal activity in the department.

The suit also claims the city breached the settlement agreement from the 2009 lawsuit filed by thirteen Montebello police officers. In that lawsuit, the former police chief, Daniel Weast, was accused of favoring white police officers over minorities.

That lawsuit resulted in a settlement and Weast’s resignation in 2010.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Jefe de Policías de Montebello es Objeto de Demanda por Cuatro Agentes

Despite efforts to reduce discrimination based on gender and race among police ranks, it is not uncommon for members of police departments to still harbor racist or sexist attitudes, said Bradley Gage, the attorney representing the four officers. He previously prosecuted similar cases in Glendale, Bell Gardens and in South Gate, where he won $10.4 million for the officers he represented.

“Until not too long ago, police departments were all white males. Some of the old-timers will remember the earlier days, in which white males were the norm and female police officers weren’t even allowed to do the things men did,” he said.

City officials did not provide a statement by press time regarding the officer’s numerous, strongly-worded allegations, despite repeated inquiries from EGP. Officials said the city’s attorney on this case, Richard Kreisler, would be able to comment, but he has yet to respond.

Councilman Jack Hadjinian said Tuesday that he “could not comment” on the case because it is a closed session item at the Wednesday, June 27 city council meeting, which was held past press time. Councilman Bill Molinari said he has yet to see the lawsuit, so could not comment.

UPDATE: Montebello Officers Group Give Police Chief Vote of Confidence

According to the lawsuit, the four officers, one of whom was appointed acting police chief in 2010, were stripped of many of their duties; demoted and given less prestigious, “dead-end” positions; or put on involuntary administrative leave pending an ongoing, but “undefined” internal investigation.

Two of the officers in the lawsuit, Captains Gregory Wilsey and Brian Dragoo, are the subject of an internal investigation. The city had originally said it was for “possible misconduct,” but according to the lawsuit, Wilsey and Dragoo have yet to be informed of why they are being investigated, and feel they are in danger of getting fired because of their numerous attempts to protect their colleagues, Sgt. Kimberly Lundy and Lt. Ricardo Rojas, both also plaintiffs in the lawsuit. All of the police officers have been on the force for more than 20 years.

According to their lawsuit, some of the officers experienced political pressure to support certain candidates in a recent city council election, and during the police chief selection process were pressured to endorse McClure for the position.

Bellamy Leads Vernon Election After County Includes Challenged Ballots

June 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The tide turned Monday for candidates in the Vernon city council election after ten ballots challenged by the business chamber were counted.

Reno Bellamy had been trailing, but took the lead after Monday’s tally by the County Registrar-Recorder’s office. Bellamy is ahead with 34 votes to his opponent Luz Martinez’s 30. Originally, Martinez was ahead with 30 votes to Bellamy’s 26. Bellamy is a housing commissioner, and Martinez is an employee of the Vernon Fire Department.

The results of the Vernon election had been limbo since June 5, when the Vernon Chamber of Commerce alleged that people who do not live in the city cast ten of the ballots. The County-Registrar’s office denied the chamber’s challenges, many of the same ones accepted by the city during the April 5 city council election.

County Registrar-Recorder official Efrain Escobedo told EGP that unless they receive an order from the court to hold back the last ten ballots, the county would proceed with counting them. The County had given the city, the Vernon Chamber of Commerce, and any other interested party until June 22 to take action to prevent the counting of those last ten ballots. But on Monday Escobedo told EGP that no action had been taken, so that afternoon the county conducted its fifth and likely final canvassing of the ballots, including the 10 under dispute.

In the last election, a city-appointed canvassing board accepted the challenges raised after the chamber’s attorney described evidence that seemed to point to several voters not actually living in the city. Six ballots were thrown out, resulting in Michael Ybarra, who was favored by the chamber, defeating incumbent Daniel Newmire 26 to 19.

In this election, however, it was the County and not the city running the election. The chamber submitted its challenges directly to the County, which responded that there was not enough evidence to throw out the ten challenged ballots.

There was much talk of legal challenges in the days leading up to Monday’s results. At a June 19 city council meeting, Vernon Chamber of Commerce President Marisa Olguin said that including those last ten ballots could result in court challenges.

She requested the city ask for the ballots back, citing an ordinance in the Vernon Charter she says gives the city final say in their elections. But the city’s attorney, Dana Reed, advised city officials not to take this course of action because it could invite litigation from the candidates and “potentially jeopardize the city’s treasury.” He said the move could also be a violation of the Equal Protection Clause that says election rules cannot be changed in the middle of the counting process.

While Ybarra was sworn-in soon after the April 5 election, his defeated opponent, Daniel Newmire, is still challenging the election in court.

The former councilman alleges the city refused his request for a recount, while the city is maintaining that the request was made too late.

MUSD Police Get Grant to Hire Vets

June 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that the Montebello Unified School District (MUSD) Police Department is one of several law enforcement agencies across the country that will receive a Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant.
The highly competitive grant is to be used to hire recent military veterans, according to the DOJ.

This is the first time the MUSD Police Department receives a grant from COPS, though it applied for it last year, according to Chief of Police Linh Dinh.

“It’s a tough grant to get and the fact that we got it, being a smaller agency, is a positive thing,” Dinh said, “Any infusion to hire more officers is a win for everybody.”

The $125,000 COPS grant will go toward covering the salary and benefits for the officer to be hired for the next three years. Dinh said the grant came at an opportune time because the department’s “Safe Schools Healthy Students” hiring grant expires on June 30.

There’s a lot of competition for the COPS grant, said Dinh, explaining why they lost out last year. He attributes his department’s better luck this year to revisions in the grant application that now requires the recipient agency to match the grant 50-50, making it more accessible to more agencies.

COPS awarded $111 million in total nationwide in an effort to support veterans who served in a branch of the military for at least 180 days since Sept. 11, 2001.

“This new opportunity for veterans is a commitment to support those who are coming home from their tour of duty,” said Bernard Melekian, COPS Office Director in a press release. “We sincerely hope this effort encourages our veterans to continue to protect and serve the United States through new law enforcement careers.”

The city of Los Angeles alone was awarded a $6.4 million grant for the hiring of 25 recent veterans followed by Chula Vista in San Diego County with $750,000; Hemet in Riverside County will receive $630,000, and South El Monte’s grant is for $125,000.

Dinh said the grants are a great help for law enforcement agencies nationwide, especially in California where “unfilled positions are going unfilled.”

Grantees were selected based on fiscal need and local crime rates, as well as each agency’s strategy for dealing with increased homicide rates and gun violence.

Vernon Recognizes Three Local Heroes

June 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

On June 19 the City of Vernon recognized three local heroes, including an off-duty police detective, for acts of bravery and service to the community.

Civilians Jansel Rodriguez and Freddy Covarruvias were awarded a proclamation for rescuing a suicidal man on the Atlantic Boulevard Bridge on April 24.

Jansel Rodriguez and Freddy Covarruvias.

According to the city, Rodriguez was walking along the bridge when he spotted a young man standing on the outer ledge of the bridge as if ready to jump. His suspicions were confirmed when the young man told him he was going to kill himself. Rodriguez proceeded to restrain the man with one hand while using his other hand to dial 9-1-1. Meanwhile, Covarruvias was driving past and saw what was happening, and immediately got out of his car to help Rodriguez hold on to the man as they waited for police to arrive to help get the distraught man off the ledge.

Vernon paramedics took the man to a nearby hospital for psychological evaluation.

“Jansel and Freddy deserve our sincere thanks, recognition and praise for their quick and brave response and excellent judgment in saving the life of a suicidal subject,” wrote Interim Chief of Police Daniel Calleros in a staff report.

A city Merit Award was given to Detective Celestino Chavez for helping his neighbor detain a burglary suspect while off-duty on February 17. Chavez received a frantic call for help from his neighbor who suspected a burglar was in his Lake Elsinore home.

Chavez went to the house where he detained the suspect until local law enforcement arrived to take him into custody. The suspect, who has a long criminal arrest record, was charged with residential burglary.

Detective Celestino Chavez

Stevenson Middle School to Lose State Funding

June 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

(EGPNews) – A struggling middle school in unincorporated East Los Angeles is among 16 LA Unified School District Schools that failed to sufficiently raise test scores and will be losing California’s Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) funds, according to the Daily Breeze.

Stevenson Middle School, run by the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, will lose about $900 per student for missing its API target by just one point, the Daily Breeze reported.

Collectively, the 16 LAUSD schools will lose about $60,000 million and are among about 130 schools statewide that will be dropped from the program on July 1, according to the newspaper.

Nine LAUSD high schools, four middle and five elementary schools in LAUSD will lose the funding.

Celebración en la Piscina del Parque Ford

June 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

El Departamento de Recreación y Servicios Comunitarios de la Ciudad de Bell Gardens este domingo, 1 de julio, realizará la gran apertura de la piscina del Parque Ford.

No se pierda la celebración que se llevará acabo en tres sesiones, elija una o mas sesiones que cuentan con natación y juegos en la piscina, comedor con sombra para espectadores, dos canchas de baloncesto junto a la piscina, un tobogán gigante inflable del agua (The Big Kahuna), un brincolín (Bounce Tropical) y juegos al estilo de carnaval.

Habrá un escenario para entretenimiento en vivo por músicos de la zona, danza, y porristas. ambién se venderá alimentos saludables como salchichas de pollo o pavo, papas horneadas, barras de granola, conos de nieve, agua frescas, y agua fría por un cobro pequeño.

Habrá una exhibición de bebidas con azúcar para promover la alimentación saludable, también habrá un concurso de comer sandía.

Nota relacionada: Eventos del Cuatro de Julio Empiezan Este Fin de Semana

Primera sesión: 11am a 1pm, el precio de admisión es $1 por un menor de edad o jubilado, $2 por adultos. Entrada opcional para la resbaladilla de agua y brincolín es $2 por persona.

Segunda sesión/Evento Principal: 1:30pm a 4:30pm, el precio de admisión es $5 por persona. Entrada opcional para la resbaladilla de agua y brincolín es $2 por persona. Incluye acceso a todas las atracciones, una salchicha y una bebida, y un boleto de la rifa. (No hay entrada general para esta sesión).

Tercera sesión: 5:30pm a 6:30pm, el precio de admisión es $1 por un menor de edad o jubilado, $2 por adultos. Entrada opcional para la resbaladilla de agua y brincolín es $2 por persona.

Entrada de Todo Acceso (All-Access Pass): $ 10 por persona: incluye el acceso a todas las sesiones y el evento principal, el tobogán, los juegos de carnaval, una salchicha y una bebida, y un boleto de la rifa.

Existen reglas de seguridad y vestuario para más información comuníquese al (562) 806-7650 o viste la página web www.bgrecreation.org

El Parque Ford esta ubicado en 8000 Park Lane, Bell Gardens.

Eventos del Cuatro de Julio Empiezan Este Fin de Semana

June 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Es difícil imaginar un 4 de julio sin el espectáculo de fuegos artificiales, pero los oficiales de la seguridad pública avisan a los residentes que espectáculos de fuegos artificiales en los traspatios son ilegal en muchas ciudades y zonas del Condado de Los Ángeles.

Los fuegos artificiales, aun bajo la supervisión de expertos, pueden provocar incendios y causar heridas.

Para ayudarles a preparar para el fin de semana del 4 de Julio, les presentamos algunos consejos y leyes para tomar en mente antes de comprar o prender fuegos artificiales en sus traspatios.

El uso privado de fuegos artificiales en la Ciudad de Los Ángeles y en las zonas no incorporadas del condado es ilegal, y aun es ilegal en las 26 ciudades con servicio del Departamento de Bomberos del Condado de Los Ángeles.

Bell Gardens, Commerce, Montebello y Monterrey Park, permiten el uso de los fuegos artificiales “seguros y sanos” que traen el sello del jefe de bomberos del estado y no explotan o dejan el suelo cuando se prenden. Sólo los fuegos artificiales que se compran en lugares con licencia para vender los fuegos artificiales “seguros y sanos” se permiten.

Los oficiales de la seguridad pública recomiendan que la gente mejor asista a unos de los numerosos espectáculos de fuegos artificiales para las familias y eventos alrededor del condado este fin de semana festivo.

Nota relacionada: Celebración en la Piscina del Parque Ford

Espectáculos de Fuegos Artificiales y Festividades en el Condado de Los Ángeles

Sábado, 30 de junio

4-9pm—Quinto Anual Concierto y Espectáculo de Fuegos Artificiales de El Sereno y Desfile del Día de Independencia en El Sereno Park: 4721 Klamath Dr. LA 90032. Los fuegos artificiales empiezan a las 8:30pm. El desfile empieza a las 2pm en la esquina de Huntington Drive y Van Horne Avenue y termina en El Sereno Park. Los eventos son patrocinados por el concejal José Huizar. Para mas información llame al (323) 226-1646.

4-9pm—Sexto Anual Concierto y Espectáculo de Fuegos Artificiales de Boyle Heights. El entretenimiento musical inicia a las 4pm y el espectáculo de fuegos artificiales inicia a las 8:30pm en el Hollenbeck Park localizado en 415 S. Louis St., L.A. 90033. El evento es patrocinado por el concejal José Huizar. Para mas información llame al (323) 342-4140.

Domingo, 1 de julio

12-9:30pm—Festival de Arte “Rock the First of July” todo el día y un Espectáculo de Fuegos Artificiales en el Centro Cívico del Este de Los Ángeles. Participe en un estreno de arte con 40 artistas locales, el “automóvil del mar” del Natural History Museum, vendedores de comida y mucho mas terminando con un espectáculo de fuegos artificiales a las 9:15pm. El evento será en 4801 E. Third Street, L.A 90022. Para mas información llame al (323) 260-2360 o visite al sitio http://lacountyparks.org.

5-9:30pm—Tercero Anual Concierto en el Parque y Espectáculo de Fuegos Artificiales en el Eagle Rock Park, localizado en 1100 Eagle Vista Dr. 90041. Asista las festividades con entretenimiento musical gratis incluyendo el grupo musical de tributo de los Vétales, un brincolín para los niños, premios, y un espectáculo de fuegos artificiales por la noche presentado por el concejal José Huizar y la cámara de comercio de Eagle Rock. Para mas información llame al (323) 254-5295.

Miércoles, 4 de julio

10:30am-4pm—Día de Natación Familiar de la Ciudad de Bell Gardens en la piscina de Ford Park localizada en 8000 Park Lane. Disfrute el día festivo en la piscina con música, comida, juegos y mas. Los primeros veinte invitados recibirán un premio y un boleto de sorteo para poder ganar aun mas premios. Para mas información llame al (562) 806-7650.

3pm—Festividades Anuales del 4 de Julio de Monterey Park empiezan con juegos y concursos en el campo abierto de béisbol incluyendo entretenimiento en vivo por la banda de concierto de Monterrey Park y la banda de Rudy Macias. Las festividades serán en el anfiteatro de Barnes Park localizado en 350 S. McPherrin. Para mas información llame al (626) 307-1388 o envíe un mensaje a raguirre@montereypark.ca.gov. Los fuegos artificiales empiezan a las 9pm.

2-10:30pm—Celebración del Día de Independencia de la Ciudad de Commerce y Carnaval en Rosewood Park: 5600 Harbor Street. Celebre con la Dama del 4 de julio Jannine Mancilla y disfrute de comida sabrosa, juegos divertidos, y entretenimiento en vivo para todas las edades. Y no se pierda el carnaval de la comunidad empezando el día de independencia y terminando hasta el domingo 8 de Julio. Para mas información y los horarios del carnaval llame al departamento de parques y recreaciones al (323) 887-4434.

9pm—Espectáculo de Fuegos Artificiales Gratis en el Alamansor Park en Alhambra. Vea el espectáculo de fuegos artificiales de cualquier lugar en el parque. Espacios de estacionamiento son limitados y hay que llegar temprano. Traiga su propia comida o compre comida de los vendedores. Alamansor Park se encuentra en 800 S. Alamansor St., Alhambra, 91804. Para mas información visite http://cityofalhambra.org.

9pm—La Ciudad de Pico Rivera presenta un espectáculo de fuegos artificiales gratis en Smith Park localizado en 6016 Rosemead Blvd. Espacios de estacionamiento estarán disponibles en Smith Park, el centro de ancianos, la escuela de continuación de Salazar (Meller) y la preparatoria El Rancho. Para mas información llame a (562) 801-4430.

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