Crunch Time for Covered California

March 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

There are just two weeks left to sign up young Latinos by the March 31 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) deadline. So it’s crunch time, or should we say time for “Days of Action” as Covered California’s latest campaign effort is being called.

With numbers far below those needed to meet the state health agency’s goal for Latino enrollment, it’s hard to understand why enrollment numbers have fallen so far behind expectations.

Given the millions of dollars spent on advertising and other outreach efforts, it’s unsettling that Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee and all the other allied groups haven’t been able to figure out a winning strategy to drive enrollment.

On the whole, California’s Latino population is younger than other groups and probably for the most part healthy. Many believe the ravages of age are still somewhere in the distant future, leading many to believe they do not need health insurance.

Latinos’ youth and physical wellness makes them very important to the overall success of the program, including financially.

But it’s hard to commit to enrolling in something when you can’t quickly see what your rate will be. You heard people you know and trust say it costs too much, so is it any wonder that many young people, Latinos included, think it will be cheaper just to pay the fine?

Cellular phone companies, auto insurance companies and fitness centers all prominently display their enrollment costs in their advertising. The advertised fees may not apply to everyone, but they help decide whether they can afford to take a closer look.

Telling young Latinos who have to worry about paying for rent, school tuition, car insurance, gasoline, groceries and other necessities that the cost of insurance is irrelevant because it will benefit them some day if they get sick or have an accident, is a message that falls on deaf ears.

The $94 fine, (many don’t know it’s that or one percent of their earnings), for the first year with out health coverage is a cost young people consider doable, especially when the actual cost of the insurance is unknown. And if they do have a real health emergency, no hospital is going to turn them away.

We agree that way of thinking is wrong, but as long as Covered California is unable to convince young Latinos otherwise, it’s going to take much longer for the agency to meet its enrollment goals.

It’s crunch time and we will be watching to see if Covered California’s Days of Action pay off.

 

Cry a River over California’s Drought

March 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

As a Californian, I have not gotten too much sympathy from friends and family about our rotten weather this winter. Yes, I said rotten weather. It’s been incredibly pleasant— except for a few times when the temperature crept up to 90 — but we’ve hardly had any rain.

Cry me a river, you might think. Especially if you live in a part of the country where the term “polar vortex” was added to your vocabulary in the past few months. Boo-hoo. It was too sunny and perfect every day.

California’s climate problems have nothing to do with human comfort — but they have everything to do with human food. And not just for California.

 

Unfortunately for the rest of the country, Californians provide a huge share of the nation’s fruits and vegetables. If we can’t grow crops because we have no water, everybody misses out.

A recent Mother Jones article points out that nearly all of America’s almonds, walnuts, strawberries, broccoli, grapes, and more come from the Golden State. And just one walnut requires a whopping 4.9 gallons of water. That’s not 4.9 gallons for a pound of walnuts. That’s for just one nut. A stick of butter? That takes 109 gallons of water to produce.

It’s more than a little crazy that a state without much water provides the nation with nearly half of its fruit, nuts, and vegetables. And yeah, you can’t judge California’s water supplies based on this year alone since it’s one of the driest years on record. But whether the current drought continues (as some experts predict) or the recent downpours herald a break in this dry spell, we are foolish to put \ all of our agricultural eggs in one geographic basket.

 

The prominent food writer Michael Pollan once made the point that efficiency in agriculture comes at the expense of resilience, and vice versa. To date, it’s been efficient to produce 95 percent of America’s broccoli in just a few California counties. But that also means that one natural disaster could take out the majority of our broccoli supply in a given year.

California is blessed with a mild Mediterranean climate and seemingly unlimited sunshine, but it’s not for nothing that we call ourselves the “Shake ‘n Bake” state. Earthquakes and wildfires are only two of our specialties — we’ve also got mudslides, flash floods, and now this terrible drought.

 

Even in wet years, it doesn’t rain much.

When farmers concentrate the growth of a single crop in one area, we risk losing that crop to an outbreak of pests or disease. That is even truer when farmers grow the same variety of the same crop. Think grove after grove of Valencia oranges, without any Navels in sight.

Our current farming system arose out of a drive for efficiency. If we grow all of the tomatoes (or lettuce or broccoli) in one spot, then the farmers benefit from an entire distribution and processing system centralized in their area. Perhaps there’s a tomato canning plant or a ketchup factory nearby.

 

This system currently gives us the cheapest food in the world. Americans spend less than 10 percent of our disposable income on food, less than any other nation.

Yet our cheap food system is inherently risky. A few years ago, a drought across most of the country radically reduced our corn production. California’s ongoing drought will reduce the supply of many fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

With the changing climate, we can expect more weather extremes and the crop failures they sow. Let’s build resiliency into our food system by growing fruits, nuts, and vegetables across the country instead of concentrating way too much of our food in one drought-prone state.

 

OtherWords.org columnist Jill Richardson is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It. 

 

The War on Veterans

March 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Do you remember Cory Remsburg? He’s the Army Ranger who received a standing ovation from Congress during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address a few weeks ago.

Applause is nice, especially from such influential people. It sure beats those cuts the Pentagon wants to make to veteran benefits.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is now trying to sell vets on his plan to scale back the number of U.S. troops, as well as what taxpayers are spending on active-duty and retired forces. After he announced his ideas, Hagel brought them straight to a town hall meeting with soldiers at Fort Eustis in Virginia. “There was no applause,” Military.com reported.

Whenever Washington winds down its wars and our troops become needy veterans, interest in their welfare always flags. Senate Republicans just blocked a comprehensive $21 billion bill that would have beefed up veteran education, health, and other benefits.

03-OK-veterans-before-after-war-cartoon

But that’s not all. Food stamps were just cut for some 170,000 vets, pensions will soon decline, and the Department of Veterans Affairs admits a backlog of 393,000 benefit claims after making great progress toward getting caught up.

About 30 percent of the vets who serve in war zones return from the battlefield with undiagnosed or untreated post-traumatic stress disorder. Some half a million are suffering from it now.

Clearly, Congress and the White House are much better at starting wars than cleaning up after them.

Military debates in Washington generally revolve around the costs of manpower, equipment, and logistics. Finding the money needed to cover the medical bills and pensions of veterans is always harder to squeeze into the federal budget.

The Pentagon only lists 19,000 troops officially wounded by enemy action in Afghanistan and gives them good care. The other hundreds of thousands with mysterious brain or emotional injuries have to prove it. But first they need to succeed in gaining an appointment at the Department of Veterans Affairs — better known as simply the VA — and demonstrating that they were honorably discharged.

 

That can be tough.

William Dolphin, a Purple Heart Vietnam veteran, is now fighting for that right in federal court. The Army gave him a bad conduct discharge years ago for being AWOL upon confusion over where he was supposed to convalesce after leaving the hospital. He’s been suffering from PTSD for four decades.

“All I’m asking is that the Army recognize that I served my country proudly,” Dolphin says.

There’s another new lawsuit filed in March by a group of Vietnam vets who went through a similar ordeal. It’s seeking class-action status.

And things haven’t changed much since the Vietnam War. Washington still sees wasting record sums of money on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as a high priority while vast numbers injured veterans go without adequate psychiatric care. At least 55,000 veterans remain homeless despite the existence of dozens of programs that specifically target this problem.

If our leaders really want to honor Cory Remsburg, they should stop making people go through what he experienced. It’s time to stop waging unnecessary wars and start taking better care of our wounded warriors.

 

Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies. Follow her on Twitter @ESGreco. OtherWords columnist William A. Collins is a former state representative and a former mayor of Norwalk, Connecticut. 

 

Man Pleads to Kidnapping, Sexually Assaulting Child From Boyle Heights Party

March 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

 A Los Angeles man who kidnapped a 3-year-old girl from a Boyle Heights party and sexually assaulted her was sentenced Tuesday to 35 years in state prison.

Edward Lopez, 55, pleaded no contest to one count of kidnapping a child under 14 and two counts of forcible oral copulation of a child under 14.

The girl was reported missing from a party at about 11 p.m. Nov. 16. Los Angeles police officers found Lopez nude from the waist down in a locked shed with the child several hours later, according to Deputy District Attorney Lowrie Mendoza.

Former East L.A. Coach Pleads No Contest to Sex-Related Charges

March 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A former volleyball coach at Esteban Torres High School in East Los Angeles pleaded no contest Tuesday to sex-related counts involving two 15-year-old girls he met at the school.

Jonathan Adam Roldan, 23, pleaded no contest to one felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse with one girl and one misdemeanor charge of child molestation involving the second girl, according to Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller.

Roldan — who worked as a junior varsity girls’ volleyball coach – is facing three years in state prison, with sentencing set June 9. A judge likely will order the defendant to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

The Los Angeles man admitted engaging in an ongoing sexual relationship with one female student, beginning in September, and admitted beginning a relationship with another female student about a month later, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Eagle Rock Woman Barricades Herself During Standoff with Police

March 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A woman barred from owning firearms because of mental illness flashed a rifle at police officers who were summoned by concerned family members, then ducked into her Eagle Rock home, sparking a 4-hour standoff with police, including SWAT officers, until early Monday, authorities said.

Family members called police to the 1400 block of Yosemite Drive about 10:30 p.m. Sunday because the woman, who has a history of mental illness, was feeling distraught and was handling a rifle, said Lt. Andy Mathes of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Northeast Station.

“When officers arrived she displayed a rifle and ran inside,” Mathes said. The SWAT team arrived and an effort began to coax the woman out, he said.

“Ultimately she gave herself up and she was booked as a prohibited possessor,” he said.

The officers who initially rushed to the home on Yosemite Drive were in Eagle Rock on an unrelated investigation targeting a suspect who bailed out of a vehicle during an attempted traffic stop around Pepper Avenue and San Fernando Road in Cypress Park, Mathes said.

Eagle Rock Girls, Boys Win City Basketball Championships

March 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The season’s biggest game, a near capacity crowd, and a television audience added up to the perfect setting for Eagle Rock High School’s Judith Espinoza.

She dominated the scene by scoring 39 points to lead Eagle Rock to a 60-51 victory over top-seeded Garfield Saturday in the girls’ basketball City Section Division III championship game at Roybal Learning Center.

Espinoza made 14 of 24 shots with six 3-pointers and five of seven free throws in what turned out to be dual Green-and-White Championships for Eagle Rock when the boys’ team defeated Hamilton, 68-56 to capture Eagle Rock’s second City Division III title of the day.

Espinoza drew chants of “MVP” in the girls’ game when she drove the lane for a basket or swished a 3-pointer.

Stewart Ramirez scored 35 for the boys.(EGP photo by Mario Villegas)

Stewart Ramirez scored 35 for the boys.(EGP photo by Mario Villegas)

“This is amazing,” Espinoza said after being surrounded by family, friends and teammates in the postgame team room. “It feels like my high school career is complete.”

Espinoza scored 33 points in the 2013 finals, but they weren’t enough to lead her team to victory against Reseda. They finished the deal this year to win the girls’ first City basketball title.

The “MVP” chants were just as loud later that day for Eagle Rock’s Stewart Ramirez who delivered an equally scintillating performance for the boys’ team.

The 6-4 senior forward poured in 35 points and had 11 rebounds to lead the second-seeded Eagles to the boys’ championship for the first time in the school’s 87-year history.

In the girls’ game, Garfield, after leading for most of the first half, led 24-23 at halftime. Espinoza took over the game in the second, scoring the first 13 points of the third quarter. She finished the 8-minute stanza with 18 points, including four 3-pointers, to put Eagle Rock ahead 44-34.

“We set our picks higher to give her more room to move off the screen,” said Eagle Rock Coach Mark Kramer when asked about halftime adjustments. “Judith’s only 5-3, but she’s such a fireball, such a competitor who is not afraid of the spotlight, or the moment no matter how big.”

Sophomore center Monica Garcia scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and senior forward Irma Munoz had 16 points and five rebounds to lead Garfield.

Eagle Rock’s Diana Flores converted seven to 10 free throws and was credited with 12 rebounds. Florence Lucey recorded 11 rebounds.

Eagle Rock (25-9) and Garfield (23-12) begin the State Southern Regional playoffs this week.

The Eagle Rock boys opened their game with a big run led by Ramirez and needed another big run in the second half to defeat Hamilton.

Drives to the basket by Ramirez for 12 points helped the Eagles to an 18-3 lead to start the game.

Hamilton overcame its bad start and went ahead, 42-41 in the third quarter, but the Yankees’ comeback hopes were quickly dashed as the Eagles soared back ahead with a 15-2 run.

Judith Espinoza scored 39 points to lead the girl. (EGP photo by Mario Villegas)

Judith Espinoza scored 39 points to lead the girl. (EGP photo by Mario Villegas)

With his team up by six with just under a minute to play in the game, Ramirez made three free throws during chants of “MVP” to prevent Hamilton from getting any closer.

Paul Gandara was a key contributor for Eagle Rock. He scored 11 points and had 11 rebounds and five assists. Chaevon Gaines also had 11 points and four rebounds.

The Eagles (22-12) run to the City title opened with a 2-7 start to what appeared to be another disappointing season. Eagle Rock, which is above the .500 mark for the first time since 2007-08, regrouped and won the Northern League title.

In the playoffs, Coach Christian Dunbar guided his teams to victories over Locke, King Drew and Grant to reach the finals.

Eagle Rock and Hamilton (11-19) advance to the State Southern California Regionals this week.

Women Owned Businesses Survive Longer

March 13, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Businesses with a woman at the helm have a greater change of long-term survival, according to Cornell University researchers.

Female ownership is the often the key to longevity, according to research by Michele Williams, assistant professor of organizational behavior in the ILR School, and Arturs Kalnins, associate professor of strategy at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration.

“We find that female-owned businesses consistently out-survive male-owned businesses in many industries and areas,” said Williams in a statement released by the university.

“Our study contributes to the debate about gender and business ownership by going beyond typical questions asked by researchers and policymakers. We explore the often-ignored third possibility – that female-owned businesses systematically out-survive male owned-business in specific industrial sectors and regions.”

Williams and Kalnins study will be published this year in the Journal of Business Venturing and is available at ScienceDirect.com.

The survival rates of female-owned businesses particularly outpaced those of their male counterparts in four broad sectors: educational services and dance studios, clothing, gift giving and alcohol sales and service, researchers found.

“One of our more surprising findings was that eating establishments that serve alcohol as well as drinking establishments survive longer under female ownership,” said Kalnins. “This goes against some stereotypes that restaurants and pubs are male-dominated businesses.”

In cities with populations of more than 500,000, female-owned businesses lasted longer. Elsewhere, male-owned businesses survived longer, according to the report.

“For 25 years, economy-wide aggregate studies have not distinguished between different types of industries. These studies often show that male-owned businesses survive longer. New kinds of studies will show that that is only true in certain industries,” Kalnins said.

LAUSD Arts Fest Grand Finale at Grand Park in Downtown Los Angeles

March 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Saturday, March 15  

10 am-4pmLAUSD Arts Fest Grand Finale at Grand Park in Downtown Los Angeles. More than 2,000 students are scheduled to perform. Program includes live student performances; artist market; screening of student short films; creativity zone; a mass performance to Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn”; vendor booths, celebrities, food trucks and giveaways.

Community Calendar: March 13, 2014 – March 19, 2014

March 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Today, Thursday March 13

7-8pm—Pre-Construction Open House for L.A. State Historic Park at Goodwill Center in Lincoln Heights. Design team will display renderings of the new park & answer questions. Location: Auditorium, 342 San Fernando Rd, LA 90031. For more information, visit www.lashp.la .

 

Saturday, March 15

10am-2pm—WRD 7th Annual Groundwater Festival “Treasure Beneath Our Feet” in Lakewood. Free event promotes importance of groundwater as a valuable resource. Festival will include over 40 exhibitors: Discovery Science Center – Live entertainment at center stage; Aquarium of the Pacific – Watershed on Wheels; Cabrillo Marine Aquarium – Ocean on Wheels and a WRD Photo Booth to take family portraits. At 12 noon, Groundwater Ambassador Awards presented to US Rep. Janice Hahn & Assemblyman Anthony Rendon; Announcement of WRD’s Art Completion Winners. WRD is located at 4040 Paramount Blvd., Lakewood, 90712. For more information, visit www.wrd.org.

12 Noon-8pm—Feast of St. Joseph Table at St. Benedict Church Parish Hall Sat. & Sun (10am-8pm) in Montebello. Blessing of the Table 12 noon Sat; free pasta meal both days. Hosted by the Italian Catholic Federation, Branch 111. Parish Hall: 17th annual 1022 W. Cleveland Ave, Montebello. For information, call Frank Salomone at (323) 888-2074.

1pm—Lucha Reyes Street Dedication & Mariachi Concert at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights. Dedication will include ribbon cutting ceremony & free community concert. Location: East 1st & Bailey St. Take Metro Gold Line to Mariachi Plaza.

 

Monday, March 17-Saint Patrick’s Day

5pm-12am—Montebello Police to Conduct DUI/Drivers License Checkpoint at Undisclosed Location. Officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment. Drivers caught driving impaired can expect jail, license suspension, and insurance increases, as well as fines, fees, DUI classes, other expenses that can exceed $10,000.

 

Wed., March 19

5-8pm—Community Planning Forum on 3 L.A. Initiatives: Mobility Plan 2035 (city’s transportation plan), Plan for Healthy Los Angeles (public health initiative), and re:code LA (comprehensive update of the City’s 1946 Zoning Code). Location: Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza, LA 90012. Take the Gold Line or Red Line to Union Station.

6-8pm—LA City Budget 101 Town Hall With Mayor Eric Garcetti & Councilmen Jose Huizar & Gil Cedillo at the Puente Learning Center. Tell the mayor & councilmen what your priorities are for city’s budget. Bilingual event is from 6 to 8pm at Puente: 501 S. Boyle Ave., LA 90033. To RSVP, go to www.lamayor.org.

 

Upcoming

Know Your Rights: Boyle Heights LGBT Town Hall March 20 at the new “City Hall.” LGBT community members are invited to hear national advocates discuss critical changes to Social Security Benefits since Prop 8 and Section 3 of DOMA for married same-sex couples, LGBT parents with minor children, LGBT individuals who are retired or age 50+ planning for retirement. Boyle Heights City Hall is located at 2130 E. 1st St., LA. Free event starts at 6pm. To RSVP or for more information, call (323) 945-9290 or go to http://tinurl.com/LGBTtownhall.

Community Design Workshop March 20 at City Terrace Park. Get an update on the Community Parks and Recreation Plan; help design potential new parks & trails in East L.A. Meets 6 to 8:30pm. Raffle & free activities for the kids, Park is located at 1126 N. Hazard Ave. East LA 90063. For more information, contact Stephano Medina at (213) 797-6553.

Documentary Film Screening: María Félix (en español), 5pm March 20 at the Benjamin Franklin Library. María Félix is an icon of classic Mexican cinema. This Spanish-language documentary explores her life and her roles and her status as one of the most prominent women in Mexican history. Library is located at 2200 E First St, LA 90033. For more information, call (323)263-6901.

Sign Ups Open for 4-Mile Challenge Run/Walk/Hike on March 22 to benefit the Audubon Nature Center at Debs Park. Join community leaders, celebrities & others taking the challenge. Course follows Debs Park Trails & covers historical points of interest. Awards to top 3 finishers in each category. Event includes a Community Wellness Fair. For more information, go to www.4milehillchallenge.com .

Central Basin and LA County Public Works Smart Gardening Workshops Through April. Free workshops teach water-wise gardening, composting and grass cycling. Local workshops: March 22 (9:30-11:30 am), Potrero Heights Park, 8051 Arroyo Dr, Montebello. For more dates & locations, visit www.centralbasin.org.

 

To submit an event to the Community Calendar, e-mail calendar@egpnews.com. All submissions are subject to space availability. Paid advertising available for guaranteed calendar placement. For more information, email advertise@egpnews.com or call (323) 341-7970. 

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