Community Calendar: March 29, 2012 to April 4, 2012

March 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Today, Thursday, March 29
3:30-6pm—Audition for the Got Skills Talent Show to be held at the Barnes Park Amphitheatre on May 11. Open to musicians, dancers, actors, poets, and other artists ages 12-18. Location: Asian Pacific Family Center clubhouse: 9353 E. Valley Blvd., Rosemead, 91770. To register or for more info, contact Nancy Trinh at (626) 287-2988 ext.154 or

4pm-5pm—Scrapbooking workshop at the Chet Holifield Library in Montebello. Capture important people and events. Bring some of your favorite pictures and ongoing projects. Some supplies will be provided, courtesy of the Friends of the Montebello Libraries. Library:1060 S. Greenwood Ave., Montebello, 90640. Call (323) 728-0421.

6-8pm—Community Meeting to stop police impounds in Boyle Heights: Benjamin Franklin Library 2200 E. 1st. St, LA 90033. Hosted by Community Service Organization (CSO). An attorney from the National Lawyers Guild will be on hand to answer questions.

7-10pm—Film Screening and Community Discussion on  “The Apple Pushers,” a film that aims to change the discussion on street vendors. Location: Self-Help Graphics, 1300 E. 1st St. LA.  For more information, go to

Friday, March 30
6pm-Midnight—Comedy Concert to Benefit Familias Unidas at Steven’s Steak House at 6pm. Comedian Rudy Moreno will perform. Salsa and dancing. $25 ticket includes dinner, and can be purchased at, or mail check to Comedy Fiesta-Familia Unida – 4716 East Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90022.

Saturday, March 31
9am-3pm—Too Toxic to Trash: Free Countywide Household Hazardous and E-Waste Roundup in the city of Lynwood. Los Angeles County residents can safely discard of household hazardous waste such as antifreeze, unused pharmaceuticals, car batteries, used motor oil, paint, pesticides, home-generated sharps waste such as hypodermic needles, pen needles, syringes, lancets, and intravenous needles, universal waste including household batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, and electronic waste (e-waste) such as TVs and monitors, computers, VCRs, stereos, and cell phones. Location: Lynwood City Streets (intersection of Butler Ave. & Bellinger St, near Alameda).  For more information, call County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works at 1(888) CLEAN LA or go to or the Sanitation Districts of LA County at 1 (800) 238-0172 or

9am–11am—Women’s Fitness Hike at Deb’s Park with Maria from Azteca Training Center. She will lead a moderate hike up & down the hills of the park. Bring water, wear workout/hiking shoes. Free child care for ages 4 & up. Meet at the Audubon Center: 4700 N Griffin Ave. LA 90031. For more information, call (323) 221-2255.

9:30am-12:30pm—Learn how to Grow a Garden through the Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative. Participants can turn gardening into positive changes in their homes by helping to lower grocery bills and enhance opportunities to eat healthy food. Fee: $50 for series/$15 per class. Contact Melissa Gutierrez at (323) 687-0795,

10am-Noon—Cesar Chavez Commemoration & Peace Walk hosted by El Centro del Accion Social  at Villa-Parke Community Center: 363 E. villa St. Pasadena, 91101. Guest speaker: Victor Griego, nationally known political strategist with Diverse Strategies for Organization. For more information, call (626) 792-3148.

11am-4pm—Vintage Fashion Show and Tea at the Heritage Square Museum. View vintage or period accurate reproduction clothing and sample afternoon tea items. RSVP required, no ticket sales at the door. Tickets: $20 for Adults; $10 children 6 to 12; 25% discount to museum members. Museum is at 3800 Homer St. LA 90031. For more info call (323) 225-2700.

5pm—Attend The Neighborhood Music School’s Faculty Concert and bring in spring with a variety of great musical entertainment. Free admission. Music school is located at 358 Boyle Ave, LA, 90033. Concert will also stream live at

2-10:30pm—Monthly Public Star Party at the Griffith Observatory run by the Los Angeles Astronomical Society. The whole family can get a look at the sun, moon, visible planets and other object, try out telescopes and talk to knowledgeable amateur astronomers. The observatory is located at 2800 E. Observatory Rd, LA 90027.

Sunday, April 1
2pm—Artist of the Month Program at the Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library featuring talk by photographer Janell Mithani in the Friends Room. She will discuss her book Bud: A Collection of Baby and Floral Art. Her photos will be on display through April in the first floor main lobby of the library. The library is at 318 S. Ramona Ave. Monterey Park, 91754. For more info call (626) 307-1368.

Monday, April 2

6pm—City of Commerce Library English Book Club will discuss The Gathering by Kelly Armstrong in the EOC Meeting Room. Sixteen-year-old Maya suspects there may be a relationship between her paw-print birthmark, her connection with wild animals, and strange events occurring in her tiny Vancouver Island community, where a medical research facility harbors big secrets. The meeting room is located at 2535 Commerce Way in Commerce. For more info call Cris Muñiz at (323) 780-1176.

Tuesday, April 3
8am-12pm—Free Workers Compensation Seminar to feature speakers Bob Yonowitz from the Law offices of Price and Phillips on “Wage and Hour” (Labor Law); Otto Cipolla from the Law offices of Cipolla, Calaba, Marrone and Wollman on “Workers Comp Defense Litigation Strategies”; Kirk Aguilera & Jeff Breskin from the Hays Companies “How to Control Your Workers Compensation Experience Modification Rate and Mitigating your Cost’s.” Seminar will be at DoubleTree By Hilton Los Angeles/Commerce 5757 E. Telegraph Rd. For more information call (323) 887-8100.

10am-2pm—Boyle Heights Sources Job Fair will take place at the PUENTE Learning Center, located at 501 South Boyle Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90033. For more info, call (323) 780-7546.

5-6pm—Family Storytime at Chet Holifield Library in Montebello. Children of all ages and their families are invited. Listen to stories, sing songs, and participate in simple art activities. Library is at 1060 S. Greenwood Ave., Montebello, 90640. Call (323) 728-0421 for more info.

2pm—Reptile Show at the Cypress Park Branch Library. Children will learn about various reptiles. The library is located at 1150 Cypress Ave. LA 90065. Call (323) 224-0039 for more info.

Wednesday, April 4
4pm—LACMA Art Classes at the Cypress Park and the Arroyo Seco Regional Branch Library. Children and families will take art classes, learn about various artists and create art through various mediums at the Cypress Park branch. Teens will create exciting and fun art projects with teaching artists at the Arroyo Seco Regional branch. The Cypress branch is located at 1150 Cypress Ave. LA 90065, call, (323) 224-0039. The Arroyo Seco Regional branch is located at 6145 N. Figueroa St. LA 90042, call (323) 255-0537.

10:30am—Baby & Toddler Storytime at the Arroyo Seco Regional Branch Library. Little ones 3 & under and their special grown-ups are invited to join us for stories, songs and more. The library is located at 6145 N. Figueroa St. LA, 90042, call (323) 255-0537 for more information.

4pm-5pm—Egg-stavaganza egg decorating workshop at Chet Holifield Library in Montebello. Children and their families are invited to join us for some fun with egg decorating. All materials and supplies will be provided. Library: 1060 S. Greenwood Ave., Montebello, 90640. Call (323) 728-0421 for more info.

7:30-10:30pm –Stop by The Garvey Observatory in Monterey Park and meet members of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society, sign up for a free Telescope Making Class or look through the observatory’s telescope. The observatory is located at 781 Orange Ave, Monterey Park 91755.

Occupy Lives On! Forum hosted by the League of Women Voters on April 5, at 11am will feature a talk by East Los Angeles native and labor and Occupy LA leader Mario Brito. The forum, which includes a $20 lunch, will take place at the Women’s City Club, 160 N. Oakland Ave., Pasadena. To reserve lunch 626-798-0965, but walk-ins are fine for free program.

Bingo for Books will take place April 5, from 4-5pm, at Chet Holifield Library in Montebello. School age children and teens are invited to join us for an afternoon of bingoBooks will be given away as prizes. Library is at 1060 S. Greenwood Ave., Montebello, 90640. Call (323) 728-0421 for more info.

East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice hosts a free Zumba class April 5, from 8-9pm. Dance Zumba and learn about Green Zones at EYCEJ’s Community Room located at 5117 Kinsie st Commerce, 90040. Bring a water bottle, comfortable clothes, and a friend.

Archbishop Jose Gomez will preside over the Olvera Streets Merchants Association’s from 82nd Annual Blessing of the Animals on April 7 noon to 5pm at El Pueblo Historical Monument. Procession and blessing start at 2pm. Musical entertainment, pony rides, petting zoo  & information from animal care organizations. Take Metro to Union Station. El Pueblo is located at 125 Paseo de la Plaza in downtown LA. For more information, call (213) 625-7074.

Gustavo Arellano, bestselling author of the ¡Ask a Mexican! column in the OC Weekly, will discuss and sign his new book Taco USA at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes on April 10 at 7pm. The book explores America’s century-long love affair with Mexican food and the impact Mexican food has on American palates and food industry sales. This free, public event will take place at  501 N. Main St. LA 90012.

CicLAvia 2012-L.A.’s biggest family-friendly street festival will take place on April 15, from 10am to 3pm. 10-miles of streets are closed to cars and opened for you to walk, jog, bicycle, roller skate and enjoy Los Angeles in a safe and fun way. For more information, visit

Pan American Bank’s Community Financial Literacy Fair on Saturday, April 14, from 10am-2pm. The fair will provide community members with information and resources related to financial matters as well as other critical services. Nonprofits are welcome to participate, and volunteers are needed. The event is free to all. Call (323) 264-3310 for more info.

Call the Theodore Payne Wildflower 24-Hour Hotline — (818) 768-3533 — to find the best places to view wildflowers in Southern California, including in Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Atwater Village, Glendale, South Pasadena and Pasadena. Information also available at The hotline message is narrated by Emmy Award-winning actor Joe Spano (Hill Street Blues, Apollo 13, NYPD Blue) and updated Thursdays with new information on more than 90 wildflower sites. The hotline is a public service of the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants.

To submit an event or announcement to the Community Calendar, email All submissions are subject to space availability. Paid advertising available, for more information, contact:

March 29, 2012 Issue

March 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Boyle Heights Council Back In Action

March 29, 2012 by · 5 Comments 

Almost exactly one year after the faction deadlocked Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council was placed under the immediate supervision of the Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE), the group has received notice that it has made enough progress to no longer require constant oversight.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOLConcejo Vecinal de Boyle Heights está de Nuevo en Acción

“As a result of the efforts of the BHNC, the Department is declaring the BHNC out of Exhaustive efforts and effective immediately we are restoring full funding for the Board to continue the important work of supporting and providing a voice for your community,” DONE General Manager Bonghwan Kim wrote in an email to the board.

Kim congratulated the council for its big turnaround, eliminating the danger of decertification.

“Quorum issues, unclear and outdated bylaw amendments, non-functional committees, lack of clarity in terms of main function of Quadrants, lack of cohesive Board leadership, and an inconsistent board,” were among the issues that prompted DONE to take control of the stakeholder group.

DONE suspended BHNC’s funding community projects during the exhaustive effort process, which cost the group $15,616 in 2011.

The decision to revoke the funding suspension leaves the neighborhood council with about $40,000—almost all of it’s funding for the fiscal year ending in four months—available to allocate to projects, according to BHNC Secretary Margarita Amador.

“It was a good experience and it was something that was needed, we had to be put in exhaustive efforts to start fresh,” Amador told EGP, adding she believes the neighborhood council now has a “solid foundation” due to the needed temporary “handholding.”

“This is a good group of individuals who were able to work together, and I think that now that we are together, we’ll be able to conduct business as expected by city and stakeholders,” Amador said, referring to the neighborhood council’s board members.

The Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council turns 10-years-old this year and members would like to hold some type of anniversary event, Amador said. Some stakeholders would also like to see a sign or monument go up that says, “Welcome to Boyle Heights,” she added.

While the council was under exhausted efforts—a sort of conservatorship state under the supervision of DONE—it’s thinning number of board members took required ethics training and additional training imposed by the city-run department.

The number of board members now sits at 19, down from 35 last year, according to Amador. The council still has area representatives though they are no longer labeled “quadrants,” and the BHNC is now evenly split between new and old members, she said.

One of the problems that landed BHNC in exhaustive efforts was its repeated inability to get a quorum, but with the new smaller board, it now only needs 11 members to be present. That’s the smallest number yet for a group that once had over 50 board members, according to Lisette Covarrubias, the DONE project coordinator who helped facilitate the BHNC’s recovery.

Covarrubias said Manny Aldana, a former member of the BHNC, filed numerous grievances while the council was in exhaustive efforts and the majority of them have been resolved, thought it may not be to Aldana’s satisfaction.

Two grievances are still outstanding, Covarrubias said, but noted that alleged violations of the Brown Act and the US Constitution do not fall under the DONE’s jurisdiction.

Last week Aldana published a lengthy blog on a political website detailing his grievances, including what he saw as a coup to remove former BHNC president Jose Aguilar by members who have political ties to elected officials criticized by Aguilar.

Last August Aldana told EGP the BHNC should be decertified to “send a message to the community that the people now on [the board] are incompetent.”
But he also admitted that his less than perfect attendance might have contributed to the BHNC’s quorum problems.

Amador, who Aldana mentions in this blog, claims the former board member only attended two BHNC board meetings while in office. In 2010 she attempted to prevent Aldana from running again by filing a grievance with DONE over his absences, but she says DONE shot down that effort because his absences weren’t documented.

Better meeting attendance documentation is one of the new procedures the BHNC has added to its revamped bylaws, she told EGP.

Aguilar was forced to resign as president last year and became an at-large member along with the other board members, as part of the move to avoid decertification. Yesterday he told EGP he is no longer on the neighborhood council, nor had he been notified that BHNC was out of exhaustive efforts.

While he did not address the specifics of his previous experience with the council or Aldana’s allegations, he did say he believes the neighborhood council should be required to hold elections every two years.

“They should be able to face the public every two years. It’s part of the accountability process,” he said. “The problem I see is that the City Council of Los Angeles has found it unviable to have an election—they might not have an election until 2014,” he said, referring to decision by the city council to reduce its funding to DONE, thereby extending the terms of some board members.

“It’s not just Boyle Heights, but it’s still wrong,” he told EGP.

Speaking on his own behalf and not for the board, BHNC President Edward Padilla told EGP he is looking forward to hearing from the community. Padilla is also a long-time member of Casa 0101’s board of directors.

Hoping to improve its outreach to the community, the board has voted to revamp the BHNC website and has set up a Facebook page. They also plan to print flyers and strengthen ties with local media to encourage public participation.

A common misconception, Padilla said, is that the neighborhood councils are government bodies, but they are actually community volunteers. “We are not the government. We are actually neighbors who want to help them get information and get the government officials to pay attention to our needs,” he said.

“…The reason we are involved is because we care about the community and want the community to be healthier in anyway we can do that. Because we are perceived as government they think it’s okay to attack us and a lot of volunteers are not ready for that,” Padilla said.

BHNC is in the process of setting up working committees, so far they have established committees for planning and land use, budget and finance, outreach and neighborhood issues, Padilla said. There are two vacant seats on the board, but as of Tuesday, the council had nnot received any applications for the spots from interested stakeholders.

DONE has made recommendations to the BHNC, including continued trainings, drafting Standing Rules to clarify procedures for absences, executive committees, and for finances, according to Kim’s letter.

The Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council was certified in 2002, three years after the Neighborhood Council system began as a way to get people involved in city government, and to advise city leaders on budget priorities and local issues.

The BHNC holds its meetings the last Wednesday of the month. The council was expected to review some requests for funding at yesterday’s meeting, held after EGP’s deadline.

The board’s new officers include Vice-President Diana del Pozo-Mora, who is also the executive director of Mothers of East LA, Rudy Salinas, Outreach and Special Events Officer,  and Treasurer Vera del Pozo. The board members are Brittany Ponce de Leon, Danny Bozarth, Edward Torrez, Gumaro Oviedo Flores, Joel Ulloa, Kenneth Wyrick, Mike McClure, Sergio Guerrero, Tam Nguyen and William Morrison.

Charter School Lambasts ‘Landmark’ Eatery

March 29, 2012 by · 4 Comments 

At a recent meeting on alcohol use in Boyle Heights, Principal Marcos Aguilar of Semillas del Pueblo charter schools complained that an El Sereno restaurant, Hecho en Mexico, was being a bad neighbor.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Escuela Charter Arremete Contra Restaurante Bien Conocido

The restaurant, which holds a beer and wine license, is sandwiched between two of Semillas del Pueblo’s schools on Huntington Drive.

At the meeting, a female speaker affiliated with Aguilar claimed the restaurant displayed a picture of a Maragarita cocktail in front of young children, and is holding “Ladies Nights” with exotic male dancers.

School accuses restaurant of alcohol license violations. Pictured: A beer delivery truck parked in front of the restaurant and schools on April 23. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

“Our school is on either side of the restaurant and we want to know how can elected officials support us in obtaining money to move to maybe a better location?” she asked.

Aguilar then cut in. “Why isn’t ABC [the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control] enforcing clear violations of liquor license in El Sereno [near our schools]?” he asked.

Will Salao, district administrator for ABC, responded saying nothing had been done because there have been no complaints filed. “We are a complaint driven agency. If you have a complaint, file it with us, and we’ll get to it,” he said.

Since the meeting on March 15, EGP attempted to contact Aguilar by phone and email to clarify his statements, but he has not responded. He was not at the school during a recent visit by EGP.

The current owner of Hecho en Mexico, Connie Castro, reacting to Aguilar’s comments, told EGP on Tuesday that “it was a surprise and a shock to us, because [the school] never spoke to us regarding the issues until recently,” adding that their restaurant has been in the same location, under different owners, for over fifty years, and is a “like a landmark in the El Sereno neighborhood.”

Castro is in the process of gathering letters of support from community members to send to the ABC in the event of a complaint, and says Aguilar has even told parents at his school to boycott her restaurant.

They have already taken down the poster that the school found offensive, she said, claiming that the poster actually depicted a glass of lemonade, with a lemon twist, and was not a picture of an alcoholic drink.

She says the statements by the speaker at the meeting that there were exotic dancers at her restaurant is tantamount to defamation.

Castro and her husband purchased Hecho en Mexico eight years ago, around the same time the school moved in. She claims previous owners already had alcohol licenses. According to California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control spokesperson John Carr, Castro’s license was originally issued in 2004, and the previous owner held a license originally issued in 1988.

“We’ve had no complaints with the ABC, no incident with LAPD, never had incidences actually, which is why it’s surprising to us,” said Castro, who noted that the restaurant’s occupancy history actually dates back to 1929.

She says that contrary to Aguilar’s portrayal of their restaurant, they are well-liked and active in the community. “We spoke to Councilman [José Huizar’s] office just recently, and they told us we passed every single permit with flying colors. We’ve never had an incident ever, always been very positive in communities, and fundraisers for various school,” she said.

Castro said they are more of a family restaurant, than the bar-like environment that Aguilar seems to portray. “It’s a place where people in the local community, if they are having a really pretty birthday celebration, or quincenera, they come here,” she said.

UPDATE: The Office of Councilmember Jose Huizar has encouraged both parties to use the City Attorney’s Dispute Resolution program to workout their differences, according to Huizar’s spokesman, Rick Coca.  “We’d like to see an amicable resolution to their differences,” he told EGP in an email on March 30.

Healthy Living Sprouts at Monte Vista Elementary

March 29, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

The mouth-watering smell of citrus was in the air Monday afternoon at Monte Vista Elementary School in Highland Park, as students whipped up a salad to show off the cooking skills they acquired through the LA Sprouts’ after-school program.

The program aims to reduce the risk of childhood obesity through the teaching of gardening, nutrition, and healthy cooking.

During the 12-week program, students spend an hour and a half each week cooking and gardening, and develop a stronger connection to the food they cook because they are growing it, USC Childhood Obesity Research Center (CORC) Project Manager Lauren Cook told EGP.

EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo LA Sprouts educators and Monte Vista Elementary students whipped up a mouth-watering salad at Monday’s garden grand opening and open house.

The students learn kid-friendly recipes, like adding veggies to quesadillas, Cook said.

“[At first] some students are resistant because of preconceived notions of what vegetables taste like… it helps to have peers who say it taste good,” she said.
Monte Vista’s school-site garden was created through the program. Monday was the gardens’ grand opening celebration.

The vegetable garden with pest-repelling flowers is organic—no chemical fertilizer or pesticides are used, said master gardener and garden educator for LA Sprouts Lucila Caro.

Monte Vista is in week-seven of the program that will soon be at three other schools, including Sierra Park Elementary School in El Sereno, said Jamie Davis, previously with USC Keck School of Medicine and now at the University of Texas at Austin.

The program came out of a pilot program at Milagro Allegro Community Garden in Highland Park where Loreto Elementary School, said Nicole Gatto, a researcher at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and the founder of the Milagro Allegro garden.

The data collected on the gardening and cooking program at the four schools will be collected and compared to a control group to see if the program has an impact on healthy eating, she said.

Gatto and Davis’s research, published last year in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, shows that Latino children who participated in the 12-week gardening, nutrition and cooking program lost weight, lowered their blood pressure and increased their fiber intake, according to USC News.

The LA Sprouts educators are bilingual and about 15 students in Monte Vista’s program are from Spanish-speaking families, according to Caro and Cook.

Caro said the children were eager to learn and she actually had to hold them back and ask them to wear gloves the first time they gardened. The students planted seeds and transplanted some plants. They also grew staples like tomatoes, and decided to grow vegetables they were less familiar with, such as arugula, amaranth and eggplant, she said.

Boyle Heights to Get Millions to ‘TRANS4M’

March 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Just two months after announcing plans to start a car company, of the Black Eyed Peas was at Roosevelt High School Wednesday to join in the announcement of a major financial investment in the Boyle Heights community.

The donation comes in the form of a multi-million dollar investment from banking giant Chase, aimed at “transforming” the East Los Angeles neighborhood.

With students from Roosevelt looking on, Chase executives and announced they have entered into a partnership that will focus on “providing social services to address Boyle Heights’ particular needs, including education, jobs and job training, health, home ownership and green space.”

Chase is backing the TRANS4M Boyle Heights collaboration with a $1 million grant to the foundation, one of the groups in the public-private partnership.

Chase and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation have also committed an additional $7 million to be paid out over the next three years to other nonprofit members of the collaboration, including Roosevelt High School.

EGP photo by Fred Zermeno at Roosevelt High School on Monday

One of the goals of the collaborative effort is to raise graduation rates, an ongoing problem at Roosevelt and other eastside schools, and the school district as a whole.

“Boyle Heights is where it all began for me,” said, who grew up as William Adams and lived in Estrada Courts.

“My foundation is focused on education, opportunity and inspiration.” The gift from Chase and its larger commitment will help in all of those areas, he said.

The unemployment rate in Boyle Heights is 17.1 percent, almost 5 points higher than the rest of the county. Only 31 percent of the adults in the eastside community hold a high school diploma, and only 5 percent have graduated from college, according to a statement from Chase announcing the donation.

The densely populated eastside community is over 95 percent Latino, with a large number of renters. Increasing homeownership is one of the goals of Trans4M Boyle Heights. Chase also announced plans to open a Home Ownership Center to “support residents with homeownership challenges.’

Robert McInerney, CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, said ‘Los Angeles is our home,” and noted that the bank has a “vested interest in helping rebuild communities here like Boyle Heights that are struggling,” since this is where millions of its customers and employees live.

McInerney said Chase has also committed to work with other members of the group, by offering jobs and internships, as well as their financial support.
“The unique collaboration has the promise to put the neighborhood back on a stable and prosperous path,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was also at announcement event.

Councilman Jose Huizar said the new investment, which comes on top of “more than $2 billion in public in recent years,” is a model of public-private partnership that can result in “lasting change,” and should be a model for other large cities.

McInerney said that by working with, “we think we can affect real change for the families who live here.”

Young Mothers Get A Helping Hand

March 29, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

A donation of thousands of diapers delivered to the Ramona Infant Center, located on the campus of Ramona Opportunity High School in East Los Angeles, was a sight for sore eyes  to some young mothers on Monday.

Eighteen-year-old Yeimy Gomez’s infant son stays at the infant center while she attends classes. On Monday she was one of several excited young mothers who received a jumbo-size box of disposable diapers, a donation that came just in the nick-of-time.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Madres Jóvenes del Este de Los Ángeles Reciben una Ayuda

“I was worried [I’d run out], there’s six days left in the month…” Gomez said, noting that money for diapers is in short supply. To make do, she’s been squeezing her son into a size five diaper when he really needs a size six.

Pan American Bank and the East Los Angeles Rotary Club donated the diapers, according to Jesse Torres, the bank’s CEO and president-elect of the Rotary.
“If anyone has a hard time buying diapers, it’s high schoolers,” Torres said.

About 3,000 diapers were delivered to the school on Monday. EGP Photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo

Last year the Rotary Club and Pan American Bank teamed up to collect diapers for an orphanage in Mexico, Torres said. The campaign was highly successful and the diapers are still coming in, he told EGP.

“I think it’s a blessing,” said Blanca Morales, 19, mother of one-year-old Nathaly Barrales.

“It’s nice. It’s a good thing, we all need diapers,” said Alexandria Piriyakul, 20, whose 18-month-old child also attends the infant center.

Not all the girls at Ramona are mothers, but for those who are, the infant center allows them to finish their high school education.

“[But] some [potential students] can’t even come because they don’t have childcare,” laments Lead Teacher Lisa Mayorga, explaining that there is a waiting list for the center that currently cares for 11 children.

The diaper donation takes some of the burden off the young mom’s shoulders, Mayorga said. “It’s definitely a lot of help.”

Alice Lopez has worked at the center for almost three decades and says the infant center could use more donations. She said years ago the LAUSD facility would regularly receive donations of blankets and shoes for the babies.

But that has changed.

LAUSD provides the center with baby formula, milk and baby food, Maria Beechwood, an employee at the center said.

Ramona Opportunity’s infant center, like other early childhood education centers, was recently threatened with closure as part of the cuts being considered by the school district, which is struggling to balance its budget with less revenue.

But while it appears the infant center is safe for now, several permanent staff members have been pink slipped, a center employee who wished to remain anonymous told EGP.

The new pink slips are in addition to two employees laid off last year, she added.

Beechwood said the diaper donation shows the young women, who are used to being judged, that people care about them.

Ramona students are taking on the role of being responsible mothers, she said. Some of them, their babies in tow, have to take as many as three buses, in the rain and in the heat, to get to school, she said.

On Monday, Torres told the young mothers that he admires their determination to get an education, and shared that his sister was a young mother who struggled to get ahead.

He also told the young women that it’s never too early to start planning for a child’s future, and told them about Pan American Bank’s free child savings accounts.

Seventeen-year-old Karina Rojas is one of four students at the all-girls school who is participating in Pan American Bank’s Youth Financial Literacy Ambassadors program. The former Roosevelt student has a one-year-old son at the infant center.

She told EGP that the ambassador program has opened her eyes.

It was like a  “wow” moment when I learned about all the different ways money can be invested, Rojas said. I had never even heard of certificates of deposit (CD) accounts before, she said.

The financial literacy program is also currently at Esteban Torres and Garfield High Schools, according to Hector Perez-Pacheco of Pan American Bank.
After completing their training, other Youth Financial Literacy Ambassadors have expressed empowerment and confidence to EGP from knowing how to manage their finances.

But today, as Rojas and her classmates struggle to balance high school and motherhood, it’s a donation of diapers that is making life just a little easier.

City Leaders Praise Sale of Dodgers to Magic Johnson

March 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

City officials Wednesday joined the chorus of Angelenos applauding the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers to a team of financial backers led by Lakers star Magic Johnson.

The Dodgers on Tuesday night announced an agreement to be acquired for $2 billion, the highest price in history for a professional sports team.

Current owner Frank McCourt and certain affiliates of the purchasers will also be forming a joint venture which will acquire the land surrounding Dodger Stadium for an additional $150 million.

The sale must be confirmed by a bankruptcy court. The deal is expected to close by April 30.

City Council President Herb Wesson, who admitted to being an Angels fan, noted the historic nature of the Dodgers being the first team to have a black co-owner.

“The first team to ever break the color barrier with the first African American player, now getting the first African American part owner — that’s so L.A.,” Wesson said.

City Councilman Eric Garcetti, whose district includes neighborhoods adjacent to Dodger Stadium, said Johnson is a natural leader.

“Magic understands what it takes to build great teams, from a business perspective and a sports perspective. It’s rare to get both,” Garcetti said.
Garcetti, a 2013 mayoral candidate, said a good baseball team is important to the city because it can bring in millions of dollars in tax revenues.

“People will travel from around the Southland and the world to come see a good team,” he said. “And as an unabashed Dodgers fan since birth. I couldn’t be happier. I think I’ll be looking to get some tickets this year.”

City Controller Wendy Greuel, another mayoral candidate, said the sale could not come at a better time to raise the spirits of the team’s beleaguered fans.

“What could be more exciting than having one of L.A.’s most iconic sports figures buying one of baseball’s most iconic teams?” Greuel said. “I can’t wait for Magic to bring ‘Showtime’ to the Ravine and deliver even more championships for Los Angeles.”

Open Letter to Ben Cardenas and the Unincorporated East Los Angeles Community

March 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Dear Mr. Cardenas:

I recently read your “Open Letter to East L.A. Residents” in the most recent edition of the Eastside Sun. In it, you brazenly, audaciously, and erroneously claimed “East L.A. has experienced 40 years of neglect” and “many of the current infrastructure projects you see today coincidentally began after our Cityhood movement started.”  To all these disingenuous assertions, I say: “¡Ya basta!”

You do not want to hear the facts. You never have. But East Los Angeles residents and Eastside Sun readers deserve them, not your slanted political agenda. I will present the facts plainly – without exaggeration or embellishment – so residents and readers may decide the truth for themselves.

YOUR CLAIM: There has been a “lack of meaningful economic investment” in East Los Angeles.

THE FACTS: The truth is quite the opposite. The Maravilla Redevelopment Area began in 1998 – far before the current incorporation movement started.

From it, we now see a Restaurant Row on César Chávez Avenue and a retail center adjacent to the East Los Angeles Civic Center, which includes a Denny’s, a Coffee Bean, and Juan Pollo, among others. We opened up the first Starbucks in East Los Angeles. The Whittier Boulevard Streetscape Project was designed in 2002, and funding became available for it in 2007 – again, before the incorporation movement began. Most recently, we are saving the historic Golden Gate Theatre building while simultaneously providing a much needed business amenity to the community.

YOUR CLAIM: East Los Angeles suffers from “less than ideal conditions.”

THE FACTS: In 1994, East Los Angeles suffered through 49 murders. Last year, we endured five homicides. So far this year we have experienced zero homicides to-date!  Countless public safety teams have been created to significantly improve the quality of life in East Los Angeles. These include Code Enforcement, Nuisance Abatement Teams, and Bar Abatements (which closed 12 problematic bars in the First District). Thanks to the Law Enforcement Task Force, crime in East Los Angeles is at an all-time low with homicides and assaults at record lows.

YOUR CLAIM: “Many of the current infrastructure projects you see today coincidentally began after our Cityhood movement started.”

THE FACTS: Your assertion is laughably false. I invite you to tour East Los Angeles to see capital investments made in the Union Pacific area via El Parque de los Sueños and the YWCA Child Care/Empowerment Center. Both projects provided much-needed services, and green space, to the Union Pacific area – and both were open to the public well before the incorporation movement.  Another example: City Terrace Park. It used to be controlled by a local gang. In 2000, it was completely renovated – and now the community enjoys both green space and programming for families. By the time I leave office, every park in East Los Angeles will have had major capital investments for residents to enjoy for decades to come. Have you visited the East Los Angeles Library and Civic Center lately, or the adjacent Belvedere Park and Belvedere Skate Park? This entire area used to be a neighborhood nuisance. Now it is a point of pride, a symbol of the East Los Angeles renaissance we have helped to usher in. Again, these projects were completed well before the incorporation movement. None required incorporation to get to goal. Neither did the significant increase in housing stock, nor the 2003 opening of Centro Estrella – the first center to serve special needs children directly in East Los Angeles. I would invite you to ride the Eastside Extension and one of your incorporation comrades can attest herself to the fact that the light rail line was planned many years before the incorporation effort. Of course, you could attest to this fact, too, since you were personally there when we opened the Eastside Extension to the public!

Ben, while I cannot please everyone, ask any constituent who is served by my office – or any resident throughout the First District – if the quality of life in East Los Angeles has improved in the past 19 years. I think you know the answer already because you continually have resorted to half-truths and outright lies to propel your incorporation dream. And it is a dream. You are living in a different reality – in denial.

As a supporter of incorporation in the 1970s, I joined the effort because it was organic and it was started by people who actually lived in East Los Angeles. But from the very beginning, the East Los Angeles Residents Association – which you spearheaded – misrepresented itself. Simply put, its members were not all East Los Angeles residents. All I ever asked of incorporation proponents was to be direct with residents and speak the truth. Instead, you perpetually made wildly false accusations. You lied.

I am very proud of the work that I have done to improve East Los Angeles. So be forewarned: Your lies will no longer go unchallenged.

Gloria Molina represents L.A. County’s first district.

Re: Ben Cardenas’ Open Letter to East L.A. Residents (March 22, 2012)

March 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Once again Mr. Cardenas has chosen to rewrite history. The distortion of the facts is a deliberate affront to all of the hard working residents and business owners who have never been satisfied with the status quo and who have been working within the process and with elected officials to make East Los Angeles a safe place to raise our families, grow our businesses and contribute to the vitality of East Los Angeles for us and for the generations to follow.

In his latest open letter, Mr. Cardenas wrote an invitation to “let us get started” — albeit the investment in infrastructure has been underway for several years, is evident and surrounds us — where has he been? The local leadership has been working in partnership with County government for change in our respective neighborhoods, Maravilla, Whiteside, Union Pacific and City Terrace, et al; some of us have been working together for more than twenty years. In 2000, we local leaders — business owners, service providers and residents participated in the planning for the beautification of Cesar Chavez Avenue, including additional parking, street repairs, pedestrian lighting and street furniture; in 2003 Centro Estrella opened bringing crucial social and sorely needed mental health services to families with children with emotional and physical disabilities and key educational services to families with children under 5; in 2005 we worked on the revitalization of the City Terrace business district, a new private housing development was completed and the park was renovated; Parque de los Sueños, the first universally accessible park for disabled children in East Los Angeles and a new YWCA Empowerment Center providing family programming for children to seniors was built in the Union Pacific neighborhood in 2010; and our parks and open space plan and implementation efforts throughout the entire unincorporated ELA is nearly complete. This plan began nearly 10 years ago; these planned improvements and implementation efforts were done well before the cityhood initiative.

The catalyst to this investment in infrastructure, would be more likely attributable to the municipal service model utilized during these past twelve years an urban planning model steeped in redevelopment that respects neighborhoods and is inclusive, specifically for those of us most impacted and all this accomplished without invoking eminent domain. I believe in the power of “place” and for those of us who live and own businesses here and have worked over the years for community change together, we have achieved shared aspirations and had our fair share of bruised egos however, we are committed to creating collaboratives with those who are willing to work for a better ELA by making informed choices and putting conflicting loyalties aside for the benefit of the entire community.

The truth is — the PLATFORM for All voices to be heard has been in existence if one wants to participate they can. Everyone can lead – together we the local leadership share history working on the front lines to make a better ELA; far from status quo. Mr. Cardenas we would ask you to get the facts right and from here forward to refrain from name calling. After all we are your neighbors, colleagues and constituents.

The truth is – as part of the incorporation process ELARA did pay for the review of economic data to be reviewed by LAFCO, the regulatory agency with county-wide jurisdiction. The truth is – the official report submitted by LAFCO confirmed there were insufficient revenues to support a new city and it did not meet the criteria.

The truth is – the residents and business owners opposing cityhood are not entrenched – we are however, determined and fixed in that we collectively refuse to pay more taxes for less services.

The truth is – we never stated we couldn’t self-govern. The truth is – we are not willing to take on $90-$100 million in debt in order to create a sub-standard municipality. East Los Angeles is a sustainable community with resilient residents. We have the ability to “renew” and we will always be able to adapt. It may take time to achieve our goals but I believe TOGETHER we can emerge as a thriving community.

In closing, we take issue with your statements and inferences that issues of development, self-governance and accountability began 4 years ago. Stop insulting our intelligence, our history and the ability for future generations to learn the true significance of self-governance. In order to hold governments accountable, you must start by being honest and fighting with the facts in hand. Today Mr. Cardenas, we hold YOU accountable.

Yolanda Duarte,
Save East Los Angeles Coalition

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