Activistas Intentan Involucrar a Padres de Estudiantes para Tomar Decisiones Escolares

March 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Mientras que muchos educadores y activistas de la reforma de escuelas están aclamando la nueva fórmula de financiamiento escolar de California que proveerá más dinero para escuelas del pre-escolar al grado 12 (K-12) con un alto número de estudiantes de bajos ingresos y bajos niveles de logros académicos, muchos también dicen estar preocupados de que no se está haciendo lo suficiente para informar a los padres que ellos también tienen voz para asignar esos fondos.

La Formula de Fondos de Control Local (LCFF por sus siglas en inglés) es un plan asignado con la intención de reducir la brecha en el rendimiento en las escuelas de bajos ingresos para darles a esas escuelas más control sobre cómo deben usar el dinero para adquirir sus metas. Específicamente requiere la participación de los padres; un trabajo difícil de conseguir, ya que muchos de ellos no están al tanto del plan del estado ni del papel que juegan para que funcione dicho plan.

Padres y estudiantes se reunieron en el Este de Los Ángeles para informarse sobre la Formula de Fondos de Control Local (LCFF).

Padres y estudiantes se reunieron en el Este de Los Ángeles para informarse sobre la Formula de Fondos de Control Local (LCFF).

En una reunión reciente en el Este de los Ángeles, padres y estudiantes hablaron acerca de su preocupación de que el este y sureste de Los Ángeles estan recibiendo menos fondos que escuelas localizadas en vecindarios con altos ingresos económicos. Padres dijeron sentirse frustrados por la falta de recursos en las escuelas aledañas.

“Necesitamos recursos básicos, como papel”, Maria Ruiz, residente del Este de Los Ángeles y madre de dos estudiantes de LAUSD le dijo a EGP. “Se les limita a los maestros en el número de copias que pueden hacer” agregó, explicando que la falta de “materiales apropiados” hace más difícil el aprendizaje de estudiantes.

Lea este artículo en inglés: Ed Reform Activists Seek to Engage Parents in School Funding Decisions

Alrededor de 150 padres y estudiantes asistieron a la reunión—promovida por Communities for Los Ángeles School Success (CLASS), una coalición de alrededor de 40 aliados que abogan por las mejoras en las escuelas del distrito unificado de Los Ángeles, y por InnerCity Struggle, organización no lucrativa que aboga por la igualdad de educación—y se les informó sobre el fondo escolar local y la necesidad para que ellos se involucren para decidir como serán gastados los fondos en sus escuelas.

El gobernador y legisladores del estado aprobaron la Formula de Fondos de Control Local en el 2013. “El dinero viene de la Proposición 30, la cual fue aprobada por votantes en el 2012 como respuesta de una crisis económica”, Roberto Bustillo, líder organizador de InnerCity le dijo a EGP.

La proposición 30 incrementa los impuestos de ventas en general por un cuarto de centavo y aumenta los impuestos a californianos que hacen más de $250.000.

“LCFF se asegura que las escuelas que sirven a los estudiantes más necesitados obtengan mayores recursos que necesitan para adquirir la oportunidad de logro que existen en los vecindarios”, Maria Brenes, directora ejecutiva de InnerCity Struggle dijo en un comunicado de prensa. “Estas comunidades escolares deben tener también la autoridad de dirigir los gastos a donde el mayor impacto se necesite guiado por una visión de apoyo a todos los estudiantes”, agregó.

Antes de la adopción del plan de fondos locales, Bustillo dijo que la forma que California distribuía sus fondos a los más de 1.000 distritos escolares en el estado era “injusta”. No tomaba en consideración la “realidad ni la necesidad de cada escuela”, dijo. Las escuelas en comunidades de mayor ingreso “con más capacidad para solicitar los fondos serían las que se beneficiarían de esos recursos”.

Patrocinadores del cambio quieren proveer más recursos económicos  para ayudar a los jóvenes en casas de crianza, aprendices de inglés y estudiantes de bajos recursos.

Un reporte reciente publicado por New American Media y EdSource Today explican que todos los distritos escolares se les requiere trabajen con sus comunidades.

“Con alrededor de la mitad de los 6 millones de estudiantes en escuelas públicas de California que vienen de bajos recursos y el 40% donde en sus casas el inglés no es el lenguaje principal, la nueva ley representa una oportunidad significativa” para ayudar a los estudiantes a sobresalir, según indica el reporte.

Ruiz dice que el cambio ha sido “una buena oportunidad” para redimir los años escolares de “recortes presupuestarios y descansos de maestros”.

Los distritos escolares deben “hacer un Plan de Control Local y de Responsabilidad” para julio del 2014. El plan debe detallar como son utilizados los fondos para adquirir el logro anual de metas para los estudiantes durante el año escolar 2014-2015.

Los distritos locales también deben proveer reuniones públicas y “obtener aporte de un comité asesor de padres y si es posible con un comité asesor de padres de aprendizaje de inglés.”

Mientras las organizaciones no pueden participar directamente para desarrollar un plan de fondos, activistas de la reforma de educación dicen estar trabajando arduamente para asegurarse que los padres estén al tanto de la oportunidad para influenciar cómo son utilizados los fondos locales de educación.

Nancy Meza, coordinadora de comunicaciones estrategas con InnerCity Struggle le dijo a EGP que ellos esperan crear más foros educativos ya que las escuelas “a lo mejor solo harán una llamada telefónica o manden una carta” para informar a los padres, un proceso que su organización considera inadecuado para que los padres puedan estar “involucrados con la escuela”.

“Aunque este es un [acto] histórico, también es complicado para los padres” dijo Meza. “Es por eso que estamos creando estos foros y proveer información para los estudiantes y padres”.

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Breves de la Comunidad

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Este de Los Ángeles

El martes comenzó es el juicio en contra de una mujer que fue parte de un robo en un Banco de America en septiembre 5 del 2012. Fiscales federales dijeron que Aurora Barrera, 33, subgerente de un Banco de America fue parte del robo de $565,000 junto a su novio Ray Vega, 34, pero el abogado defensor dijo que la mujer fue ordenada por  “hombres enmascarados” de llevar una bomba falsa y ayudar a llevar a cabo el robo.

Ambos están acusados de conspiración para cometer robo de un banco y de ser hallados culpables enfrentan hasta 30 años en prisión en una cárcel federal.

Hasta el momento sólo se ha recuperado el 2 por ciento del total del robo, según las autoridades.

 

Vernon

La junta de supervisores del Condado de Los Ángeles aprobó la creación de un grupo de trabajo destinado a cerrar Exide, la compañia de reciclaje de baterías de Vernon, y la identificación de otras amenazas para la salud industrial.

El equipo de trabajo es “un paso importante en la reducción de los riesgos de intoxicación en nuestras comunidades más vulnerables”, dijo el Dr. Jonathan Fielding, funcionario de salud del condado a la junta.

 

Eagle Rock

Una mujer que tenía prohibido portar armas debido a su enfermedad mental, sacó un rifle frente a policías que fueron llamados por familiares de la mujer en su casa. Los familiares de la mujer pidieron ayuda en el 1400 Yosemite Drive alrededor de las 10:30 p.m.

La mujer que sufre de enfermedad mental tenía un rifle dijo el oficial Andy Mathes del departamento de policía de la estación Noreste. El equipo SWAT llegó con la idea de calmar a la mujer quien al final cedió.

Ella se entregó y fue admitida como poseedor prohibido de armas.

 

Boyle Heights

Edgard López, 55, de Los Ángeles apareció en corte el martes y declaró “no contestación” a un cargo de rapto de una niña de 3 años de una fiesta en Boyle Heights y haberla asaltado sexualmente y dos cargos de sexo oral forzado con un menor de 14 años.

López fue sentenciado a 35 años en prisión.

March 13, 2014 Issue

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Senadores Lara y De Leon Presentan Medidas para Mejorar Ética en Campañas

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Dos senadores hispanos, Ricardo Lara de Bell Gardens y Kevin de León de Los Ángeles junto con el presidente pro Tempore del Senado de California, Darrell Steinberg, anunciaron el viernes en Sacramento un paquete de medidas que busca “cambiar la ética y las reglas de las campañas” para los funcionarios electos del estado.

Lara y De León forman parte de un grupo de senadores demócratas que han venido trabajando a puerta cerrada a raíz de los problemas recientes de los senadores Ron Calderón y Rod Wright.

Refiriéndose al paquete de propuestas, De León expresó que cree que ayudará a mejorar la confianza en el legislativo.

“Pienso que tiene la habilidad para restaurar la confianza del público”, manifestó al anunciar las medidas.

De León anunció sus propuestas SB 1443 y SB 1444 que -de manera general- buscan modificar la Ley de Reforma Política y revisar las responsabilidades de la Comisión de Prácticas de Política Justa, respectivamente.

La medidas prohíben cualquier tipo de regalos de los cabilderos a los legisladores, incluyendo aquellos por valores menores a $10, actualmente permitidos. También rebajan de 440 a 200 dólares el límite en el valor de regalos que los funcionarios pueden recibir de una misma fuente.

De su parte, Lara presentó el proyecto de ley SB 1441 que busca alterar el límite en los valores de los regalos que los funcionarios del gobierno puedan recibir y la SB 1442 que modificaría las agendas de los reportes de los Comités de Campaña.

Las propuestas del viernes se suman a un proyecto presentado durante la legislatura actual por Alex Padilla, de Pacoima, que incluye la prohibición de recolección de fondos durante los 100 días anteriores al fin de la sesión.

Igualmente hay un paquete presentado por la asambleísta demócrata de Bell Gardens, Cristina García, que prohíbe la realización de eventos para colectar fondos en las residencias de los cabilderos.

El senador Rod Wright, D-Baldwin Hills, fue hallado culpable el 29 enero de ocho cargos graves de perjurio y fraude electoral. El senador Ron Calderón D-Montebello, está acusado de 24 cargos tras una investigación federal del FBI.

County Approves ‘Strike Team’ to Deal with Toxic Polluters

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State officials have advised some eastside residents to not allow their children to play in their backyards or at a local preschool in response to concerning results from soil samples taken in Boyle Heights Maywood, Huntington Park and East Los Angeles.

The samples, ordered by the state’s Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) following repeated findings of unsafe levels or arsenic and lead emitting from battery-recycler Exide Technologies in Vernon, showed higher than expected levels of lead in 39 residential backyards and at the Volunteers of America Head Start preschool at Salazar Park in unincorporated East Los Angeles.

The test results were made public one day before Los Angeles County supervisors voted to create a county Toxic Threat Strike Team to target toxic polluters for closure, starting with Exide, accused of raising the cancer risk for more than 110,000 residents in that area and surrounding east and southeast communities.

At all 39 homes tested, lead levels were higher than the 80 parts per million acceptable to the state and as high as 580 parts per million at one home in Boyle Heights. According to DTSC, none of the homes had significant levels of arsenic.

As a result, DTSC has ordered Exide to conduct additional soil tests and by March 21 to submit a new plan for protecting children and pregnant women from the plant’s toxic emissions.

According to DTSC, while the samples taken at the Salazar Park Head Start, 95 parts per million, were “slightly above” what they expected, they are “not a problem.” Nevertheless, the agency issued a health precaution advising children and pregnant women, considered the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of lead, to thoroughly wash their hands or anything that may be exposed to contaminated soil, and plant fruits and vegetables in raised planters.

The county’s strike team will include public health officials, firefighters, the district attorney, public works officials and others. It will have the authority to engage and collaborate with state agencies and local jurisdictions.

Boyle Heights resident Dolores Mejia, pictured, dresses up as a sick patient to speak at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Meeting  , where a task force dedicated to closing down Exide Technologies in Vernon was approved.  (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Boyle Heights resident Dolores Mejia, pictured, dresses up as a sick patient to speak at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Meeting , where a task force dedicated to closing down Exide Technologies in Vernon was approved. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

“We are at the mercy of the state agencies that are just not working quick enough to get us in the direction to shut down these facilities,” said Supervisor Gloria Molina who proposed the task force and whose district includes Vernon and other impacted communities.

County officials said funding had prevented the county from stepping in sooner, but the new task force will provide a “public health lens” and help push state agencies to work at a quicker pace.

Initially, the team will focus on strategies to protect residents by identifying actions that would lead to the closure of the Vernon facility until DTSC makes a final decision about Exide’s permit: the plant has been operating on a temporary permit for decades.

Molina also wants to reach a deal with the state to give the county authority to go into facilities such as Exide and shut them down when necessary.

“That’s in the long run,” Molina said.

Despite agreeing that the plan is a step in the right direction, some longtime community activists still criticize county officials for taking too long to deal with Exide. Several speakers at Tuesday’s supervisors’ meeting said their deadline for closing down Exide has already expired.

“It should have been done a long time ago,” said Monsignor John Moretta of Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights. “How can you tell a child not to play in the dirt? Where else in the world are people living like this?”

Moretta also questioned where the federal presence is in all this, telling EGP he personally called the office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer on the matter but has yet to receive a response.

Boyle Heights resident Teresa Marquez said the federal government needs to step in and investigate how state agencies have handled Exide’s case.

“I’m not confident that we are even moving forward,” she said.

Exide’s Plant Manager John Hogarth Tuesday invited supervisors to visit the Vernon plant and see the company’s commitment to safety up close.

“Exide is committed to making the Vernon plant a premiere recycling facility and considers the health and safety of the community and its workers its top priority,” Hogarth said.

In a statement released by Exide, the company said several factors could have contributed to lead levels in the area, including freeway exhaust and paint found in older homes.

In its report, Exide said there is no pattern in the soil samples to suggest that proximity to its plant causes higher concentrations of lead. It also notes lead levels were below state health departments’ hazards levels. Exide said soil samples are just one part of a long-term assessment, which will also include blood testing for lead and therefore no conclusions should be reached about the risks or the source of the lead.

“The health and safety of the community, as well as its workforce, are important to Exide and the company is committed to investing in the Vernon facility to further reduce emissions and protect public health,” said Exide Senior Director of Commercial Operations E.N. “Bud” DeSart in a statement.

However, Brian Johnson, DTSC’s Hazardous Waste Program deputy director, told EGP tests showed lead levels higher than those used to determine whether the health impact to sensitive people, such as pregnant women and children, warrant additional action, such as cleanup.

“We are convinced, based on evidence, that Exide is a contributor,” said Johnson. [That’s] “Not to say there are no other contributors.”

Homes selected for soil sampling were picked based on an air dispersion module, which predicts the areas with the highest probability of exposure near Exide, according to DTSC.

The concentration levels “do not require any emergency action…but we are concerned with chronic exposure at lower levels,” Johnson said.

Vernon Mayor W. Michael McCormick said Tuesday he found the sampling results “troubling” and the health advisory for affected communities “warranted.”

Vernon’s Deputy Director of Health and Environmental Control, Dave LeDuff spoke in support of the strike team.

He said for the past year, Vernon’s elected officials have made it clear “that Exide must operate in a manner that does not “pose a health or safety threat to its workers,” or to workers at nearby facilities or the residents living in nearby communities.

He said Vernon is prepared to take part in the county’s strike team.

Moretta said the “holistic approach” could help reduce the problem of “one hand not knowing what the other is doing” by bringing “everyone to the table.”

Johnson told EGP that DTSC is already working with county health officials on Exide’s case and his agency welcomes “working with their new system.”

Huntington Park Councilmember Karina Macias told EGP she believes the new task force may create more bureaucracy and questions whether it could actually stall the closure process, but added she feels “it will provide a chance for the community to have a strong arm.”

She said the lead levels are not surprising, but it angers her “that we know this and nothing continues to happen.”

The Department of Public Health and County Counsel is expected to provide the board with a report on the strike team within 90 days.

A public meeting to discuss soil sample results has been scheduled for 6 p.m., March 19, at Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights.

 

For more information contact DTSC’s Public Participation Specialist Stacey Lear sat (714) 484-5354 or by email at stacey.lear@ctsc.ca.gov. 

Coalición Pro-inmigrantes Intensifica Presión ante Presidente del Congreso

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Unas 16.000 peticiones a favor de la reforma migratoria fueron llevadas el martes a la oficina del presidente de la Cámara de Representantes, el republicano John Boehner, junto con 80 medallas de cartón con la palabra “coraje”, para animarle a su aprobación en el Congreso.

A una semana de que el número de deportaciones se calcula que alcanzará los dos millones durante la administración del presidente Barack Obama, activistas de al menos 20 estados del país, varios de ellos indocumentados, se manifestaron frente al despacho del congresista con las medallas amarillas colgadas al cuello.

Al ver que la oficina del líder republicano se mantuvo cerrada, los manifestantes metieron tanto los documentos con las firmas, como muchas de las medallas de cartón por debajo de la puerta y otras fueron colgadas por fuera.

“No sé por qué temen de la comunidad. Hemos venido en otras ocasiones y siempre pasa lo mismo”, dijo Raúl Benítez, un cocinero indocumentado de Washington, D.C., nacido en Anamorós, El Salvador.

Frente al Capitolio, el grupo de unos 80 inmigrantes y activistas pro-inmigración pidieron “coraje” al congresista Boehner para que los republicanos aprueben la ley en la Cámara de Representantes.

La prioridad del encuentro, organizado por el Movimiento por una Reforma Migratoria Justa (FIRM, por sus siglas en inglés), es pedir al presidente Barack Obama la suspensión de las deportaciones, así como la aprobación en el Congreso de la reforma migratoria, dijo Ricardo Ramírez, a nombre de la mayor coalición del país a favor de la inmigración.

El grupo portaba pancartas alusivas a la reforma migratoria y en una de ellas, incluso, aparecía una fotografía de Boehner con una cabellera similar a la del personaje del león de la película el Mago de Oz.

Angélica Salas, del grupo CHIRLA (Coalición por los Derechos Humanos de Los Ángeles), afirmó que las redes pro-inmigrantes del país llevan tres años con la mismas peticiones de frenar las deportaciones. En este momento ya “se nos acabó la paciencia con el presidente”, dijo.

En conferencia con los medios de comunicación, la líder de la organización californiana dijo sentirse “harta” de las excusas de ambos partidos políticos.

“Si tuviera la oportunidad le diría a él (Boehner) que como padre cómo se sentiría de no poder tener a su hijo en su cumpleaños o en una Navidad”, dijo con los ojos llorosos María Durán, mexicana que lleva 30 años en Arizona y 20 de no estar al lado de su hija, quien permanece en México.

Durante la manifestación frente al Capitolio, el congresista por Nevada Steven Horsford mencionó que la reforma migratoria debe aprobarse inclusive por beneficios económicos para EE.UU..

“Es tiempo de que el congresista Bohener nos dé su voto”, dijo frente a los activistas. “Es tiempo de reparar este sistema roto que separa familias y que además con ello se le haría un bien a la economía, con la creación de trabajos”.

La cumbre se llevó a cabo entre el martes y miércoles en un hotel de la capital, y en ella se prepararon líderes de las diferentes localidades como parte del desarrollo de nuevas estrategias a favor del movimiento migratorio, aseguró.

El Movimiento por una Reforma Migratoria Justa ha insistido en que es necesario cambiar el modelo de inmigración del país, que separa a cientos de familias cada día.

El Senado aprobó en junio una reforma integral del sistema de inmigración, que incluye el refuerzo de la seguridad de la frontera con México y abre una vía para la adquisición de la ciudadanía estadounidense para los indocumentados que radican en el país.

La Cámara baja, de mayoría republicana, se ha opuesto a analizar el documento del Senado en su totalidad y prefiere un enfoque por partes.

Ed Reform Activists Seek to Engage Parents In School Funding Decisions

March 13, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

While many educators and school reform activists hail California’s new school funding formula that will direct more money to K-12 schools with high numbers of low-income students and low-levels of academic achievement, many also say they are worried not enough is being done to inform parents they can have a say in how those funds are allocated.

The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) is intended to reduce the achievement gap at low-income schools by giving those schools more control over how to use the money to achieve that goal. It specifically requires the involvement of parents; a difficult task to manage, since many are unaware of the state’s plan or their possible role in making it work.

At a recent town hall meeting in East Los Angeles, students and parents voiced their belief that Eastside and South Central schools receive less funding than schools in higher income neighborhoods. Parents said they are frustrated over the lack of basic resources at nearby schools.

Ed

Parents and students gathered at a town hall meeting hosted by InnerCity Struggle and CLASS to learn how to bring money to low-income schools. (Courtesy of Aaron Humprey)

“We need very basic stuff, such as paper,” Maria Ruiz, an East Los Angeles resident and mother of two LAUSD students told EGP. “Teachers are being limited on the numbers of copies they can make,” she said explaining that a lack of “appropriate materials” makes it more difficult for students to learn.

About 150 parents and students attended the meeting to inform high school students and their parents about local school funding and the need for them to get involved in deciding how funds at their school are spent. The meeting was hosted by Communities for Los Angeles School Success (CLASS), a coalition of about 40 community partners advocating for improvements at Los Angeles Unified School district schools, and InnerCity Struggle, a non-profit group that advocates for education equality.

The governor and legislators approved the Local Control Funding Formula in 2013.

“The money comes from Prop 30, which was approved by the voters in 2012 as a response to the economic crisis,” InnerCity lead organizer Roberto Bustillo told EGP. Proposition 30 increased the state sales tax and income taxes for Californians who make over $250,000 a year.

“LCFF is about making sure schools that serve the neediest students get the resources they need to close the achievement and opportunity gaps that exist in neighborhoods,” Maria Brenes, executive director of InnerCity Struggle said in a press release. “These school communities must also be given the authority to direct spending where the biggest impact can be made guided by a vision of supporting all students,” she added.

Before the adoption of the local funding formula, Bustillo says the way California distributed funds to the more than 1,000 school districts in the state was  “unjust.” It did not take into consideration the “reality nor necessity of each school,” he said. Schools in higher income communities “with more capability to apply for funding would be the ones benefiting from those resources.”

Backers of the change wanted to provide more financial resources to aid youth in foster care, English learners and low-income students.

A recent report published by New America Media and EdSource Today explains that all school districts are required to work with their communities.

“With about half of California’s 6 million public school students coming from low-income homes and 40% from homes where English is not the primary language, the new law represents a significant opportunity” to help students succeed, the report states.

Ruiz calls the change a “very good opportunity” for schools to overcome years of “budget cuts and teachers furloughs.”

School districts are required to “draw up a Local Control and Accountability Plan” by July 2014. The plan must detail how funds will be used to meet annual achievement goals for students during the 2014-2015 school year. School districts are also required to hold public meetings and “get input from a district-level parent advisory committee and if possible from an English learner parent advisory committee.”

While their organizations cannot directly participate in developing the funding plan, education reform activists say they are working hard to make sure parents are aware of their opportunity to influence how local education funds are spent. Nancy Meza, strategic communications coordinator with InnerCity Struggle, told EGP they intend to hold more forums because schools “may only do a phone call or send a letter” to inform parents, a process her organization considers inadequate for getting parents “engaged with the school.”

“Although this is historical, it is also complicated for parents,” Meza said.  “That’s why we are doing forums and providing information to students and parents.”

 

Iconic Activist Joins Final Push for Obamacare

March 13, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

With just two weeks left to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, the agency responsible for enrolling Californians has called on a well know civil and labor rights activist to help them get the word out to Latinos who have been slower to sign up.

At health care provider AltaMed’s headquarters in East Los Angeles last Friday, Covered California announced it has enlisted the aid of Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW) and proponent of various civil rights causes to help motivate Latinos to sign up for health insurance before the March 31 deadline.

Covered California is stepping up efforts to reach out to Latinos after being criticized for doing a poor job of getting Latinos to sign up, and for being slow to produce outreach materials and website content in Spanish.

Civil rights leader and UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta promotes Latino enrollment in Obamacare at AltaMed in East Los Angeles. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

Civil rights leader and UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta promotes Latino enrollment in Obamacare at AltaMed in East Los Angeles. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

As of January 31, an estimated 120,000 Latinos had enrolled in Obamacare, according to Covered California’s most recent numbers. But that number falls far below those estimated to be eligible for free or subsidized coverage.

“Out of about 877,000 eligible for Medi-Cal, 30% (263,100) are Latinos,” Covered California Information Officer Larry Hicks told EGP via phone. “We think the number may be higher, but only those who identified themselves as Latinos were counted,” he said.

Huerta said Friday that it is very important for Latinos to know about the benefits that the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, provides.

Responding to criticism that coverage through Covered California – the state’s health care exchange – is too expensive, Huerta told EGP that the cost of not having insurance could be even higher.

“Whatever monthly payment you have to make is not as expensive as if one of your family members get sick or has an accident,” Huerta said “That’s why you have health insurance, in case of these emergencies.”

Huerta and Covered California will promote the health coverage exchange through a series of events being billed as “Days of Actions” leading up to the March 31 deadline that happens to coincide with the state’s day to commemorate labor leader and UFW co-founder Cesar Chavez.

The importance of having health care insurance is a message that hits close to home for the Herrera family of Pico Rivera.

Maria Dolores Herrera told EGP that her family’s finances took a big hit when her husband, Raymundo suffered a heart attack and intestinal bleeding, forcing a five day stay in the hospital.

“Every time we go [to the doctor or hospital], everything is more expensive. His retirement is not increasing, but the medicine is higher, consults are higher, staying at the hospital is higher,” Mrs. Herrera told EGP, as she waited Friday with her husband and son to speak with an enrollment counselor at the AltaMed Insurance Resource Center, located on Whittier Boulevard across the street from where the press conference was held.

The family said the first time Mr. Herrera went to the hospital the daily rate was $125, but the last time he was hospitalized it had gone up to $250 a day, an amount they found hard to pay.

Medi-Cal did pay for some of his medicine and hospital stay, but it was “not enough,” said Mr. Herrera. “The hospital told us to enroll [in Obamacare],” he said.

Not everyone, however, can get coverage through the health exchange. Those in the country illegally are ineligible for health insurance under Obamacare.

But according to AltaMed CEO Castulo de la Rocha, being undocumented does not mean you have to do without health care.

“Part of our mission for the last four decades at AltaMed is to provide services to people regardless of their ability to pay and their legal status in the U.S.,” de la Rocha told EGP.

“It doesn’t matter if you are here legally or not, we will work with you either through Covered California or Medi-Cal,” he added.

Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee told EGP that while the Affordable Care Act does not offer coverage to people without legal status, they still benefit because Obamacare  “provides more financial support to community clinics like AltaMed.”

“There are many families with mixed status [documented and undocumented] who can get access through covered California for Medi-Cal” for some members, he said. Lee emphasized that enrollment information is used for “one purpose only, health insurance.” It will not be shared with immigration agencies such as Homeland Security, he said.

Latinos are about 39% of California’s population, according to the Pew Research Center. To be financially viable, Obamacare must enroll healthy, young people, and in California, that means Latinos.

“We have to help our community because if Latinos do not enroll this is not going to work,” said Huerta. “Let’s make sure your family is protected and you are covered,” she added.

Coverage for those who enroll by March 15 starts April 1, and May 1 for those who wait for the March 31 deadline. Those who miss the March 31 deadline will have to wait until the end of the year to enroll for coverage in 2015.

Pelosi Joins Local Politicians to Talk Economic Agenda for Women

March 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A group of elected officials, all women, were at Cal State Los Angeles Monday to discuss their economic agenda for women, including paycheck fairness, childcare and immigration reform. Their discussion coincides with Women’s History Month, observed every year in March.

The Democrats top ranking member of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, joined Congresswoman Judy Chu of Monterey Park, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and candidate for County Board of Supervisor Hilda Solis and State Sen. Holly Mitchell, whose 30th district includes parts of the city of Los Angeles for a discussion based on the premise that “When women succeed, America succeeds.”

Pelosi, the first and only female Speaker of the House Representatives, has made many strides for female rights, Chu said during her introduction of the congresswoman.

U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, left, and former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, right, talk about their economic agenda for women and families at Cal State Los Angeles. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, left, and former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, right, talk about their economic agenda for women and families at Cal State Los Angeles. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

She helped pass health care reform, pushed for a vote on the Dream Act and passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that prohibits paying female employees less than their male counterparts, Chu said.

Pelosi told the small group of attendees that raising the minimum wage would help the many women and children living in poverty.

“What drives my engine now is seeing that one in five children lives in poverty, that is intolerable,” she said. “We have to do something to change it.”

She talked about giving people hope so they feel they can achieve something greater.

“Children learning, parents earning its all connected,” Pelosi said. “Nothing brings more money than the education of the American people.”

Solis addressed the lower wages among women of color, noting that Latinas on average earn $23, 000 a year while African American women earn $18,000 a year.

“Tell me that isn’t a problem for our families,” she said.

Sen. Mitchell pointed out that one of the biggest obstacles to women achieving success in the workforce is the lack of childcare.

“So many of us, no matter the job, when asked to define ourselves we’re a mother’ first,” she said. “Childcare keeps California working.”

The senator pointed out that $4 million for childcare was cut out of the state’s budget. That’s 110,000 child slots, she said. And now that the state budget is back in the black, the governor is focused on saving for a rainy day, she said.

“I don’t know about his community, but in my community its been raining for a long time,” said Mitchell, triggering applause from the audience.

The list of speakers included two women who shared stories about their personal struggles and the difficulty many women, especially mothers, have multi-tasking.

Single mother Ronetta Jackson shared her experience raising her daughter on her own while taking care of her sick father.

She said she fears many home support workers like her may see their hours capped by the state, despite the jobs requiring 40 hours or more.

“You can’t balance the budget on the backs of paid workers,” she said.

Magali Sanchez-Hall is also a single parent and a survivor of domestic violence. She was called a “success story” after seemingly beating the odds as an immigrant who at one point was on food stamps and is now working on her PhD at UCLA.

How do you manage everything on your plate? Sanchez-Hall was asked.

“I’m a woman,” she replied.

 

L.A. Has Collected $8.6 Million in Taxes from Medical Marijuana Shops

March 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The city of Los Angeles has collected $8.6 million in business taxes from medical marijuana facilities since the taxation of such shops began nearly three years ago, the head of the city finance office said Wednesday.

The city has continued issuing tax registration certificates to medical marijuana facilities despite last May’s passage by voters of Proposition D, which limited the number of dispensaries to the roughly 135 that registered with the city prior to September 2007. The proposition also placed restrictions on their operation.

Since July 20, 2013, when Proposition D took effect, 297 tax registration certificates have been issued to medical marijuana facilities, according to Antoinette Christovale, general manager of the city Office of Finance.

Over the years, the city has issued a total of 1,400 tax registration certificates to so-called “medical marijuana collectives,” and since the taxation began in April of 2011, the city has collected $8.6 million from such businesses, Christovale said.

“The city of Los Angeles has collected $1.6 million in business taxes from (businesses) who have filed under the (medical marijuana) tax category … since the passage of Prop D,” Christovale said.

City Attorney Mike Feuer said Monday that tax registration forms have allowed some medical marijuana shops to pass themselves off as legally operating businesses.

Feuer said his attorneys “have found through our prosecution or enforcement of Proposition D that there is a lot of misinformation among realtors.”

His office has also launched a campaign to inform property owners they can be fined and even jailed for renting or leasing space to an illegally operating marijuana dispensary.

An “urban legend” has circulated among agents that “the mere receipt of a business tax registration certificate displays the lawfulness of a medical marijuana business, and that is false,” Feuer said.

The city attorney said he has no plans to ask the Finance Department to stop issuing the tax registration certificates, but he will be notifying businesses that received the certificates “over the past year” that they are barred from operating under Proposition D.

Of the 1,400 tax registration certificates issued, 1,140 are listed as active, according to Christovale.

Proposition D also included a tax hike that kicked in on Jan. 1, raising the tax from $50 to $60 per $1,000 of gross receipts generated by medical marijuana collectives.

Feuer has prosecuted more than 300 individuals involved in illegal dispensaries, with 27 pot shops closing due to criminal prosecution filed by his office, a Feuer spokesman said.

“Dozens of defendants” at more than 20 of the locations “have paid fines and are on probation,” Rob Wilcox said.

Feuer said this week that about 100 dispensaries in all have closed since the ban, either due to criminal prosecution or voluntarily.

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