Napolitano No Aumentará el Costo de Matrículas en el Sistema UC

March 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

La presidenta de la Universidad de California (UC), Janet Napolitano, garantizó el martes que el costo de las matrículas no aumentará para el periodo 2014-2015, y que la universidad seguirá implementando formas no sólo de mantener sino de aumentar su oferta de becas para estudiantes de bajos recursos.

En una reunión celebrada en el Instituto de Política Pública de California (PPIC inglés), Napolitano defendió así la necesidad de enfrentarse al déficit previsto de 1 millón de graduados universitarios para el 2025 en el estado de California.

El informe “El futuro de California: educación superior”, publicado en enero por el PPIC, asegura que California “enfrenta una seria escasez en su oferta de trabajadores graduados de la universidad”.

Para hacer frente a este déficit de profesionales con educación universitaria, Napolitano quiere ampliar las alianzas con la empresa privada haciéndoles “ver la Universidad de California como un gran motor del cambio”.

Igualmente reafirmó su compromiso de mantener ayuda financiera para los estudiantes indocumentados, que por su condición de inmigración no califican para las ayudas federales.

Napolitano explicó que entre un 65 y 70% de los estudiantes del sistema UC se gradúan en un término de cuatro años, y resaltó que este hecho es también una forma de apoyar a los estudiantes de menos recursos para que reciban “una educación de muy buena calidad en una cantidad razonable de tiempo”.

El reporte afirma que, de persistir la tendencia actual, para el 2027 el 41% de los trabajos requerirá al menos un título universitario, mientras que se proyecta que para el mismo año sólo el 35% de los adultos de California en edad de trabajar tendrán un diploma de universidad.

Napolitano explicó que también ha pedido a los diferentes campus para que trabajen muy cerca con la escuela media para inculcarles la idea de acceder a la universidad pública.

“Los latinos—que conforman el grupo mayor de adultos jóvenes—han tenido históricamente índices bajos de terminación de estudios universitarios”, destaca el informe. No obstante, el mismo análisis resalta que el 73% de los hispanos—el porcentaje más alto entre los grupos encuestados, cuyo promedio fue del 60%–creen que “la educación universitaria es necesaria para el éxito en el mundo laboral de hoy”.

Cesar Chavez: A Movie About a Cause and an American Legend

March 27, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Labor leader César E. Chávez passed away in 1993 after a life of fighting for farmworkers’ rights. César Chávez Day is commemorated in several states – March 31 in California – and the César E. Chávez National Monument stands in his honor, and now a film about the legendary activist is scheduled to hit movie screens on March 28.

Cesar Chavez is directed by Diego Luna, actor (Y tu mama también and Milk), director and producer (The Well) and stars Michael Peña (Walkout and American Hustle) in the leading role as Chávez; America Ferrera (Real Women Have Curves, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and TV’s Ugly Betty) as Helen Chávez, the labor leader’s wife; and Rosario Dawson (Alexander, Rent and Men in Black II) as Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers union (UFW).

Cesar Chavez, a movie directed by Diego Luna about the life of labor leader and UFW founder Cesar Chavez opens this weekend. Actor Michael Peña (center) plays Chavez, pictured. (Photo courtesy of LPN News)

Cesar Chavez, a movie directed by Diego Luna about the life of labor leader and UFW founder Cesar Chavez opens this weekend. Actor Michael Peña (center) plays Chavez, pictured. (Photo courtesy of LPN News)

Filmmakers focused on crucial periods of Chavez’s life during the 1960’s that included the Delano march, the grape boycott, his first hunger strike and coming to the bargaining table with growers.

Peña brings those moments to life with a sensitive portrayal of the labor leader that allows us to feel the personal sacrifices he made in his life. Peña shows us that Chávez had a quiet resolve and respect for all, even the bad-guy growers.

He also brings to life less-known incidences in the labor leader’s fight. One such episode takes place during the grape boycott when Chavez travels to Europe to gain support for his cause and to block grape shipments sanctioned by the U.S. government intended for the European market. The scene in which he empties crate after crate of grapes off a bridge is all about sweet victory.

Dolores Huerta, as portrayed by Dawson, is ever present. Her important role in the struggle may not be clearly defined in the movie, but it’s clear that she was by Chavez’s side every step of the way. Dawson captures her inner strength.

Actor Michael Peña (right) in the movie Cesar Chavez, directed by Diego Luna about the life of labor leader and UFW founder. The film opens this weekend. (Courtesy of LPN News)

Actor Michael Peña (right) in the movie Cesar Chavez, directed by Diego Luna about the life of labor leader and UFW founder. The film opens this weekend. (Courtesy of LPN News)

Ferrera’s portrayal of Chavez’s wife gives us more insights into Chavez’s character. Through her we see how he struggled to be a good husband and father and understand how his struggles were hers too.

Actual footage and news clips of the time are seamlessly woven into the movie. Even when paired with the scenery, costuming, props, and casting from the film production, you believe you are back in the 1960’s.

Yet, the biggest sigh of relief comes not from the moment that news breaks that growers are willing to meet with the UFW, but for a production that is respectful of the great labor leader. That said, this dramatic biopic of one great Latino leader reinforces the urgency for many more. We need to all get out and support this movie because with its success there will be more. And perhaps the next one will be about Dolores Huerta, who continues the good fight.

Katharine A. Díaz is a freelance writer and author of the award-winning cookbook Sabores Yucatecos: A Culinary Tour of the Yucatán (WPR Books: Comida, 2012).

Campaign Urges Permanent Residents to Pursue Citizenship

March 27, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

About half of the 3.4 million legal permanent residents in California who are eligible for U.S. citizenship live in Los Angeles County, according to data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Of those, 504,455 are immigrants from Mexico.

But a lack of information, fear and widespread misconceptions are keeping many from taking the next step and becoming U.S. citizens, said several speakers last week at a meeting where local nonprofits, the media and others were encouraged to get involved in a national campaign to increase the number of people applying for citizenship.

When you become a citizen you can get a “better job, health benefits” and can be more politically and civically engaged, explained Linda Lopez, chief of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office of Immigration Affairs during the meeting.

Sione Vanisi became a U.S. citizen at the age of 71 on Wednesday March 19, 2014, he holds his naturalization certificate and says he is happy to be a new citizen. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

Sione Vanisi became a U.S. citizen at the age of 71 on Wednesday March 19, 2014, he holds his naturalization certificate and says he is happy to be a new citizen. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

The goal of the New Americans Campaign (NAC) is to help legal residents with the citizenship application process by providing them with the information and resources they need to overcome the barriers and myths that could be keeping them from applying.

“Language and costs are the top two” obstacles to people becoming citizens, said Elisa Sequeira, California director of civic engagement for the NALEO Educational Fund.

In some cases, people mistakenly believe they have to give up their culture and cut off ties to their country of origin to become a U.S. citizen, Sequeira told EGP.

She explained that applying for citizenship is a four step, 6 month-long process: preparing for the citizenship test; submitting the application and testing; background check, including fingerprinting, and finally, taking the citizenship oath.

For some, the $680 application fee is a non-starter, but according to Sequeira there are fee waivers available to those who cannot afford to pay.

“If you are receiving public benefits, earn 150% below the federal poverty level or you are facing economic challenges,” you can submit form I-912 requesting a fee waiver with your application, Sequeira told EGP.

Newly naturalized citizen Joseph Oloimooja told EGP that he came to the U.S. from Kenya 15 years ago on an F-1 Visa for foreign students and decided to make the U.S. his home. There are really good reasons, such as health care, security and holding a U.S. passport” to become a citizen, Oloimooja said. Citizens can also vote; permanent residents cannot.

Tongan native Sione Vanisi immigrated with his wife and two children to Hawaii in 1970 and three years later moved to California. “My wife encouraged me to apply for citizenship,” Vanisi told EGP. She wanted us “to take advantage of the benefits that this country gives” if you are a citizen, he said.

However, like many immigrants, Vanisi wanted to be able to return to his country of birth to visit family and friends. He worried he would have to give up his Tongan citizenship, and that some would think he was turning his back on his roots. But after speaking with others in the Tongan community, he found them supportive of his decision and learned he could hold “both citizenships,” he said.

Last week, at seventy-one-years of age, Vanisi was sworn in as a U.S. citizen. “I’m happy that I became a citizen, I feel the spirit,” he told EGP.

“For the first time, after 43 years [in the U.S.], Mr. Vanisi will be able to vote,” Kittione Tuitupou, a case manager at the Tongan Community Service Center in Hawthorne told EGP. “I’m very proud to help people, who for a lot of reasons don’t want to become citizens,” change their minds, Tuitupou said, adding that he accompanied Vanisi to the swearing-in ceremony March 19.

The citizenship application will change on May 2 of this year. Many people have been taking classes and studying to learn the information on the current application and Nasim Khansari, citizenship network manager at Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said legal residents should take advantage of the old application while it’s still around. She said the new application, released Feb. 4, will jump from 10 pages to 21 pages in length. Fees are unchanged.

There are also options for those who don’t speak English or whose health prevents them from taking citizenship prep classes. People over the age of 50 who have been legal residents for 20 years or more, and those 55 and older with 15 years as legal residents, can take the exam in their native language, according to Sequeira. They can also request an interpreter or take someone they know with them to the immigration interview so they “feel more comfortable,” she said.

People who suffer a medical illness, such as a stroke, that prevents them from learning English or U.S. history also have options, said Sequeira. “Their doctor has to fill out form N-648 and explain the medical condition and how it affects his/her learning.” They could be excused from that part of the interview, she said.

It’s time for immigrants to stop being afraid or continuing to make excuses for not becoming a citizen, Sequeira said. “We took a great risk by coming to this country, we shouldn’t be afraid to take an exam that will take less than 30 minutes,” she said.

“It’s not a risk, it’s an opportunity.”


General Requirements For U.S. Citizenship (requirements may vary in some cases):

Must be at least 18 years old.

Must be a legal permanent resident holding a green card for at least five years.

Must have continuous residence in the U.S. for at least five years, or three years if married to a U.S. citizen.

Must be able to read, write and speak basic English

Must have knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government

Must be a person of good moral character

Must be attached to the principles of the U.S. Constitution


Citizenship application workshops and classes are happening throughout L.A. County. To find one near you, call (888) 839-8682 or visit for more information.



Twitter @jackieguzman



County to Offer Free Lead Screenings to Residents Living Near Exide

March 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles County health officials announced Wednesday they will offer free blood lead screenings to residents who live, work or attend school near the Exide Technologies battery recycling plant in Vernon.

Recent testing of soil samples found elevated levels of lead in 39 homes around the plant.

The county Department of Public Health will offer confidential blood lead screenings from April 7 through the end of September. Residents can call (844) 888-2290 beginning April 7 to get more information about the screenings or to have lab requisition forms sent to their homes.

County officials stressed that the elevated lead levels detected by the soil samples were not considered particularly alarming, but since the levels were above those recommended by the state, further testing has been ordered.

Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the public health department, encouraged residents to take advantage of the free testing, and he again lashed out at the Exide operation and called for its closure.

“Given the history of repeated violations at this facility, it is hard to understand why Exide Technologies has been allowed to continue operation before the state has made a final determination to either issue or deny the facility’s operating permit,” he said.

Exide officials said last week that area air quality regulators approved the plant’s plan to reduce arsenic emissions from the plant. The plan will sink another $5 million in upgrades at the plant, meaning the company will have spent $20 million on efforts to improve the plant and reduce emissions, according to Exide.

The company contends it has reduced emissions by more than 70 percent since 2010.

The Exide plant has been under close scrutiny by state and local regulators over the past year. The plant was forced to temporarily shut down last year due to arsenic emissions, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District sued the company in January alleging numerous air quality violations.

The battery recycling plant has been operating under a temporary permit from the state Department of Toxic Substances Control for the past 32 years and is the only facility left in the state that has not been fully permitted, DTSC officials said last year.

The plant, in operation since 1922, recycles 23,000 to 41,000 batteries daily.

Commerce Crowns New Queen, Royal Court

March 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A new queen and royal court were crowned Saturday at the 54th Annual Miss Commerce Pageant.  Twenty-year-old Denize Rodriguez was named Miss Commerce during the pageant held at the Commerce Hotel and Casino, and broadcast live on the city’s television channel and on the Internet.

Selected from a field of 14 contestants, Rodriguez could not contain her excitement and tears as she made her first walk as Miss Commerce 2014 in front of an audience of about 350 people, Commerce spokesperson Herlinda Chico told EGP.

Denize Rodriguez, 20, was crowned Miss Commerce at the Commerce Hotel and Casino in front of an audience of about 350 people. (Courtesy of City of Commerce PIO)

Denize Rodriguez, 20, was crowned Miss Commerce at the Commerce Hotel and Casino in front of an audience of about 350 people. (Courtesy of City of Commerce PIO)

Rodriguez attends Rio Hondo College  where she is studying psychology. She works at the Citadel Outlets and in her free time she volunteers at the city’s Central Library Literacy Center.

“I think being Miss Commerce will give me the opportunity to participate in social events and allow me to learn more about myself… and I will be able to give back to my community,” she said in a recent interview.

Rodriguez will receive a $2,500 scholarship from the Commerce Hotel and Casino, clothes and gift cards to Citadel stores, among other items.

Joining her on the royal court are Samantha Ashley Jauregui as Miss Clippers; Chloe Elizabeth Romero, Miss Dodgers and Miss Friendship; Natalie Melendez, Miss Fourth of July and Mariah Pino, crowned Miss Cinco de Mayo.

L.A. Doubles Up On Summer Youth Jobs

March 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The city of Los Angeles will offer twice as many jobs to young people this summer, with a total of 10,000 openings, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday.

The Walt Disney Co. donated $1 million to fund the Hire L.A.’s Youth program, which makes jobs available to people aged 14-24, Garcetti said.

“I can’t think of a better partner for our youth than Disney,” the mayor said. “I also want to thank Citibank and the Citi Foundation for their generous commitment and thank our other incredible partners.”

Garcetti made the announcement at the Yo! Watts-College Center, where he was joined by White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, county Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, City Council President Herb Wesson, Councilman Joe Buscaino and Disney and Citibank executives.

Garcetti said the expansion fulfills a goal he set when he first assumed office.

“Too often, young people can fall behind during the summer when school is out,” he said. “But our summer jobs program makes sure summer is a time for young people to get ahead by earning a paycheck, job skills and financial education.”

Teen employment dropped 15 percent between 2000 and 2012, according to a report released last week by the Brookings Institute.

“That is unacceptable and we are going to change that,” Garcetti said.

Busch Celebrates Auto Club 400 Victory

March 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Kyle Busch celebrates his career 29th victory last weekend in Lancaster at the 18th Annual Auto Club 400 at the Auto Club Speedway in Lancaster. The race included 35 lead changes, breaking the previous track record of 33 set back in 2008. Busch’s win makes it two in a row after winning the race in 2013 as well. Competition is running high, with a different driver capturing each of the first five races of the season. (EGP Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Kyle Busch celebrates his career 29th victory last weekend in Lancaster at the 18th Annual Auto Club 400 at the Auto Club Speedway in Lancaster. The race included 35 lead changes, breaking the previous track record of 33 set back in 2008. Busch’s win makes it two in a row after winning the race in 2013 as well. Competition is running high, with a different driver capturing each of the first five races of the season. (EGP Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Exide Technologies Submits Plans for Additional Soil Sampling

March 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Battery recycler Exide Technologies has submitted two plans to state toxics controls officials in response to test results from soil samples that showed elevated levels of lead in the backyards of several local homes and a preschool and park in unincorporated East Los Angeles.

The claims were filed within days of a public hearing in Boyle Heights where angry residents again criticized state officials for their failure to close down Exide’s plant in Vernon, despite repeated violations of state standards on toxic chemical emissions.

The Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) hosted the hearing at Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights to address the latest test results, and to explain measures residents should take to avoid exposure to lead in their own backyards.

The plans submitted by Exide include a proposal to conduct additional soil sampling and to expand the area where the samples will be taken. It also calls for removing lead-laden soil at two properties.

Exide officials have repeatedly said there is no evidence directly, and exclusively linking elevated lead levels in surrounding communities to the company’s recycling of lead batteries in Vernon. As a result, the company is also proposing to pay for additional research to determine the source of the lead, include testing the paint in area homes for lead content.

“Exide remains committed to working with the DTSC and we believe the submitted plans will help us reach the shared goal of protecting public health, said E.N. “Bud” DeSart, Exide Senior Director of Commercial Operations in a press release.

Soil samples taken from the backyards of 39 homes in Boyle Heights and the city of Maywood and the Volunteers of America Head Start preschool at Salazar Park in unincorporated East LA, showed higher than expected levels of lead. The soil sample testing was ordered by DTSC following earlier tests found the company had failed to adequately keep toxic chemicals from escaping its Vernon plant.

Air quality officials are also pursuing action against Exide in response to several incidences of elevated emissions of toxins, including arsenic, into the air. Last year, the South Coast Air Quality Management District said arsenic emissions from Exide had increased the cancer risk to 110,000 east and southeast residents living near the facility located at 2700 S. Indiana Street.

Exide’s latest plans also include provisions for notifying residents in the affected area — along La Puerta Street, South Indiana Street, South Alma Avenue, East 52nd Street, East 53rd Street East —that soil samples taken in their area had detected high concentrations of lead, and information about the health consequences of lead exposure.

Contact information for DTSC, Exide and Advanced GeoServices, which produced the two plans for Exide, will also be provided in case the resident needs more information.

Residents will also be offered free blood testing for lead through Los Angeles County, but paid for by Exide.

As part of its plan, the company will collect demographic information from the 39 properties tested and arrange for certified lead paint inspectors to assess and address lead hazards in the homes. Exide will also cover bare soil that could become contaminated with lead, recommend paint stabilization strategies to reduce deterioration and exposure to lead; and potentially provide high efficient dust vacuuming to suck up fine particles such as dust and pollen to prevent them from being re-released to the air.

Soil will be removed from the two properties that had lead concentrations above California’s hazard level of 400mg/kg — at no cost to the residents, according to Exide.

Notification of the residents is expected to occur within 60 days of DTSC’s approval, while soil removal is expected to begin within 90 days of approval if permitted.

“Once approved by the department these plans will help provide further clarity on the sampling while also presenting a path forward to follow up actions to help continue safeguarding the health of our workforce and the community,” said DeSart.

The plans come on the heels of air quality officials announcing approval of Exide’s operational plan to reduce air emissions and reach compliance with AQMD’s stricter air quality standards. The plans also includes the company’s commitment to spend $5 million on upgrades to the Vernon facility over the next two years, bringing the company’s total investment to more than $20 million since 2010, according to Exide.

The battery recycler has been operating under a temporary DTSC permit for 32 years and is the only facility left in the state that has not been fully permitted, DTSC officials said last year.

Exide assures the plant has reduced emissions by more than 70 percent since 2010.


Information from City News Service was used in this report. 


Metro to Hold Hearing on Proposed Fee Hike

March 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Public transit passengers and others will get a chance to give input on Metro’s proposal to hike fares during a public hearing at the March 29 Metro board meeting, which starts at 9 a.m.

Metro officials – projecting a $36 million budget deficit over the next two years – are proposing two new fare structures, one of which would incrementally raise the base fare from the current $1.50 to as high as $3.25 during peak hours by 2021.

Increases also are being proposed for most other categories, including for seniors and students, as well as day, weekly and monthly pass users.

In both structures, incremental hikes would take effect in 2015, 2018 and 2021.

Under one option, the $1.50 base fare would increase by a quarter during each phase – to $1.75 in 2015, $2 in 2018, and to $2.25 in 2021.

A second option would increase base fares much more steeply during peak hours, while applying slightly smaller increases for “off-peak” hours lasting from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weekdays, and all day on weekends and federal holidays.

This means peak-hour base fares would increase to $2.25 in 2015, $2.75 in 2018 and $3.25 in 2021.

During off-peak hours, the base fare would stay at $1.50 in 2015, go up to $1.75 in 2018 and rise to $2 in 2021.

Under both proposed fare systems, the base fare would allow Metro riders to transfer as often they want within the 90 minutes after boarding their first bus or rail car using their TAP card.



Northeast L.A. Peace March and Resource Fair on Saturday

March 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

An annual march first held years ago in response to an uptick in gang violence in Northeast Los Angeles, but now more of an exercise in community building and unity, will be held this Saturday, March 29.

Organizers of the two-part community event, which includes a resource fair following the peace walk, say their goal is to create “solidarity for safer communities and homes, ending gang and domestic violence.”

While “great strides” have been made by local enforcement to reduce crime in the area, organizers say there’s still more that can be done.

The event kicks off at 12 p.m. Participants will meet at Christian Assembly Church – 2424 Colorado Blvd where opening remarks will be made, followed by the walk to Saint Bernard’s Church  – 2615 W. Avenue 33 – where a resources fair featuring more than 30 participants offering everything from HIV testing & blood pressure screening, to free Child ID cards, food, music, soccer games, and a variety of other free children activities will take place. The Kiwanis Club will donate a riding helmet to every child who completes the LAPD provided, safe bicycle riding course.

For more information, contact Dr. Stan Moore at or by calling (323) 256-1024, or Heinrich Keifer,, or visit the Kiwanis Club website

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