‘Mega’ Hits Half-Billion-Dollar

March 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Mega Millions fever will undoubtedly grip the Southland for the next two days, with the jackpot for Friday’s drawing already swelling to a record $500 million.

Tuesday night’s drawing was the 18th to be held with nobody matching five numbers and the Mega number to claim the jackpot. California Lottery officials initially estimated Friday night’s jackpot at $476 million, but by Wednesday, that number jumped to the half-billion-dollar mark.

Friday’s drawing will be the largest jackpot in the history of the game, which began in 1996. The previous largest jackpot was $390 million for the March 6, 2007, drawing. The Jan. 4, 2011, drawing had a $380 million jackpot.

The numbers drawn Tuesday were 9, 19, 34, 44, 51 and the Mega number was 24.

There were 47 tickets sold with five numbers, but missing the Mega number, including nine in California. The ones sold in California are each worth $308,573, while the other 38 are each worth $250,000, a California Lottery official announced.

California law requires most major payoffs of lottery games in the state to be paid on a pari-mutuel basis.

One of the tickets with five numbers, but missing the Mega number was sold at Surf Liquor in Santa Monica, while a second was sold at Stopper Liquor in Placentia.

The holders of the winning ticket from Santa Monica — a group of co-workers at an unidentified business — claimed their prize Wednesday.
The winners called themselves the “Lincoln 10.”

Winners in San Diego and San Bernardino counties also claimed their $308,573 prizes Wednesday.

The odds of matching all five numbers and the Mega number is 1 in 175,711,536, according to the Mega Millions website. The overall chance of winning a prize is 1 in 40.

The Mega Millions game is played in 41 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Judge Upholds County’s Plastic, Paper Bag Ban

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An ordinance requiring a ten-cent charge for plastic and paper grocery bags was upheld by Judge James C. Chalfant of the Los Angeles Superior Court last Friday.

A plastic bag manufacturer from South Carolina is among the petitioners in Schmeer vs. County of Los Angeles, a case challenging a county ordinance banning paper and plastic bags as unconstitutional under Proposition 26, a voter-approved measure that requires a 2/3, or supermajority, vote by the state legislature to pass any “special tax” to generate revenue for public programs.

Chalfant ruled that the ten-cent charge included in the county’s Plastic and Paper Carryout Bag Ordinance would not generate revenue for the county and does not fall under the “special tax” definition.

Plaintiffs are expected to appeal Chalfant’s ruling in state courts. “We always expected this case to be decided at the appellate level, and are confident the appellate courts will uphold the will of the people as expressed in Proposition 26, which protects Californians from hidden taxes levied by local governments without a vote of the people,” said James Parrinello, lead counsel for the plaintiffs.

County Supervisor Gloria Molina applauded the ruling, saying it was a “huge victory not just for Los Angeles County, but for all jurisdictions waiting to see what happens in this case so they can implement similar laws.”

The ordinance, which bans stores from giving away carryout grocery bags to customers, took effect July 1, 2011 for large stores, and on Jan. 1, 2012 for small stores in unincorporated areas of the county.

Molina, who authored the 2010 ordinance, said the purpose of the ten-cent charge was to give consumers an incentive to “shop with more environmental awareness, while preventing merchants from having to take on yet another financial burden – particularly during rough economic times.”

It was not meant to generate funds for the county, instead, it was part of an effort to promote reusable bags to replace plastic bags that are known to clog up county waterways, contribute to urban blight, and contaminate the marine environment, she said.

Leon Appointed New Mayor of Commerce

March 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Lilia R. Leon was appointed mayor of Commerce during the city council’s annual reorganization on March 20.

During the meeting, Joe Aguilar, who served as mayor this past year, stepped down, while Tina Baca Del Rio continues her term as Mayor Pro Tem.

The newly appointed Councilman Ivan Altamirano also took his oath of office during the meeting, joining fellow Councilwoman Denise Robles.

From left to right: Newly appointed councilman, Ivan Altamirano; Mayor Pro Tem Tina Baca Del Rio; outgoing mayor, Joe Aguilar; Mayor Lilia Leon; Councilwoman Denise Robles. (Photo courtesy of City of Commerce)

“We just acquired a new councilmember, and so far we’re working as a team, a united team and that makes a big difference when you’re all able to talk to each other.”” Leon said of Altamirano.

Altamirano replaced Robert Fierro who resigned earlier this year after pleading guilty to a federal conspiracy charge. He will be sentenced on April 23.

Leon says she is joining councilwoman Robles in visiting a different Commerce businesses every Friday. “We’re thinking outside the box.
These are very difficult economic times we’re going through. The state took our redevelopment money and I don’t want to take any services and programs away from residents,” Leon told EGP Tuesday.

The city has been seeking corporate sponsorships for various community events. So far Union Pacific Railroad has pledged $7,500 for the Cinco de Mayo festival, and local businesses have donated $2,500 for the Easter Egg Hunt. Sponsorships also help the city fund the Miss Dodger and Miss Galaxy spots in the recent Miss Commerce Pageant.

The job that goes with being mayor is not new to Leon, who held the position in 1999 and 2000 during a previous term on the city council. She was most recently elected to the city council in a special election in 2008 and re-elected in March 2009.

Leon also served on the city council from 1998 to 2001, and on the education commission from 2002 to 2008. She was a member of the Commerce Casino Advisory Committee, and president of the Recreational Facilities Corporation Board.

Challenger Of Monterey Park’s Past English-Only Measure Honored in Congress

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A Roosevelt High School graduate and long-time Monterey Park community activist, Ruth Willner, who passed away Feb. 28 after a battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 82, received kudos from House Representative Judy Chu on the floor of Congress this month.

During her remarks, Chu credited Willner with heading up a campaign against a proposed English-only ordinance in Monterey Park. Willner co-founded the Committee for Harmony to fight “anti-immigrant” measures being proposed in the city, Chu said.

In 2008 when a play was written about the time, Willner told EGP that while English-only sentiment has subsided, there are still some in the city who complain about its linguistic makeup, which has shifted over the years from being a majority English-speaking neighborhood, to one in which the languages of minorities are hard to miss.

“The old-timers are still here, learning to live with it, but… they’re always muttering about something… they still miss not having the Trader Joes shop, they miss not having the bookstore with English books in it. They miss, they miss, they miss,” she told EGP.

Willner, who grew up Jewish in East Los Angeles, told EGP in a past interview that she identified with her neighbors, who were also minorities.

At a recent city council meeting, Monterey Park Councilman Mitchell Ing pointed out that it was Willner who successfully fought to keep the library board in existence when there was talk of disbanding it.

Chu said Willner was a “true believer in the political process” who was active in a variety of community issues that Chu said are “too many… to name here,” including the city’s Blue Ribbon Budget Committee, the School District Formation Committee, Friends of the Library, Concerned Citizens, and committees against casinos and billboards.

Chu closed her remarks on the House floor, saying, “I urge my House colleagues to join me in honoring Mrs. Ruth Willner for her record of civic activism, her indomitable spirit and her remarkable service and contributions to her community and to our nation.”

This is not the first time Willner was recognized by a Congresswoman. In 2005 when she retired from her role as the newsletter editor for the Monterey Park Democratic Club, then Congresswoman Hilda Solis, now the U.S. Labor Secretary, noted Willner was the “newsletter’s only reporter, writer and editor” and that “her work played an integral role in keeping members up to date and in touch.”

Willner, born Aug. 21, 1929, attended Roosevelt High School, Los Angeles Community College, and the University of California, Berkeley, and was a 52-year resident of Monterey Park. Her husband of 56 years, Irv Willner, who died six years ago, was also a community activist.

A public memorial at the Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library is being organized. The date tentatively scheduled for April.

Lee Kum Kee VP, Monterey Park Resident Named Woman of the Year

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The vice president of Lee Kum Kee, the world’s largest manufacturer and seller of Chinese sauces, was named this year’s 29th Assembly District Woman of the Year by Assemblyman Mike Eng Monday.

Eng said Betty Tsang, a Monterey Park resident, “has been instrumental in introducing Chinese food culture and flavors into mainstream American culture.”

Betty Tsang of Monterey Park, pictured at center, was honored as Woman of the Year by Assemblyman Mike Eng. She is the VP of Lee Kum Kee, a household name in Chinese sauces and seasonings.

For the past 30 years Tsang has promoted the products in the U.S. food industry, developing recipes using the sauces and appearing in television and radio programs to help familiarize an American market with traditional Chinese seasonings.

Both Asian and American chefs now make use the company’s products, which include oyster sauce, soy sauce and hoisin sauce, which are available at mainstream supermarkets and restaurants; and Tsang has consulted with food industry household names such as Applebee’s, BJ’s, California Pizza Kitchen, Panda Restaurants, TGIF, McDonald’s, Pillsbury, Nestle and Uncle Ben’s.

Tsang also serves as the president of the Asian Food Trade Association and sits on the board of the Hong Kong Association of Southern California.

Signature Gathering to Start on Spending Limit Measure

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Backers of an initiative to limit government spending were given approval to begin gathering signatures by Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

Valid signatures from 807,615 registered voters — 8 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 general election — must be submitted by Aug. 13 to qualify what backers have dubbed the “Government Spending Limit Act of 2012” for the November ballot.

The initiative would limit annual state spending to the previous year’s level, adjusted for growth in the state’s personal income, require surplus revenue to first be spent on debt service and strengthen the two-thirds vote requirement for bills increasing or creating taxes, according to Teresa Casazza, president of the California Taxpayers Association, one of the initiative’s backers.

“The politicians haven’t enacted real pension reform,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, another of the initiative’s backers.

“They haven’t streamlined government or prioritized spending programs. Instead of cutting waste, corruption and inefficiencies, they threaten cuts to programs like schools and law enforcement unless we raise taxes. This measure will allow voters to make a clear choice between higher taxes or responsible limits on government spending.”

The initiative is opposed by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who told the Mercury News it “would send California’s public schools, universities and colleges sliding into perpetual mediocrity.”

California voters approved a spending limit, Proposition 4, in 1979, but it was gutted by the passage of the 1988 school spending measure, Proposition 98, and the 1990 sales tax increase, Proposition 211.

Voters rejected a spending limit, Proposition 76 on the November 2005 ballot.

Man Killed in Cypress Park Drive-by

March 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

(CNS) – Homicide detectives on Wednesday were investigating a drive-by shooting in Cypress Park that left a 22-year-old man dead.

The shooting was reported at 9:50 p.m. Tuesday in the 2900 block of Elm Street, two blocks east of Cypress Avenue, said Los Angeles Police Department Officer Karen Rayner.

Albert Magdaleno died at a hospital, said coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter.

Magdaleno was standing in front of a friend’s house when a gold van pulled up and shots were fired from inside the vehicle, striking the man multiple times, said Sgt. Lisa Phillips of the LAPD’s Northeast Station.

Roosevelt High Teacher Charged With Unlawful Sex

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(EGPNews) – Prosecutors have charged a 42-year old Roosevelt High School Spanish teacher with six felony counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with two male victims who were aged 16 and 17 at the time the crime occurred.

Gabriela Cortez was accused of having sex with the two victims, now adults, between January 2009 and November 2010, primarily at her home in Montebello.

Cortez pleaded not guilty at a March 22 arraignment, and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing setting on April 11.

Montebello Health Clinic Taking Appointments, Prior to April 16 Opening

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(EGPNews) – A free and low-cost health clinic in Montebello has yet to open, but is already taking appointments.

The two-exam room clinic will be located at the community center building of Reggie Rodriguez Park, and will serve as a satellite for Bell Gardens-based Family Health Care Centers of Greater Los Angeles.

According to the health center’s director, Dr. Felix Nunez, patients can start making appointments now by calling (562) 928-9600. The facility will offer primary care, including pediatrics and adult care, as well as vaccinations and physicals.

The clinic accepts patients with Medicaid and Medi-Cal, and as well as uninsured patients.

Another satellite location opened earlier this month in the city of Downey. The Montebello and Downey satellite clinics are funded through County Supervisor Gloria Molina’s office and the Clinic Capacity Expansion Program of the Public Private Partnership Program.

Monterey Park Starts Cracks Down On Signs, Handbills In Downtown Area

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The city of Monterey Park is cracking down on postings of handbills and signs in the downtown on Garfield and Garvey avenues.

Authorities will be taking a zero tolerance policy toward these signs, which advertise rooms for rent, transportation and temporary housing for out of town visitors.

City employees have contacted the individuals through the phone numbers left on the signs, but this has not deterred the practice, and from now on citations will be issued to anyone posting signs on public property.

Monterey Park Explorers removing handbills posted to trees and signposts. (Photo courtesy of the City of Monterey Park)

Officials say the postings are eyesores in a commercial area of that the city has “put a great deal of time, effort and money” to beautify, and is a violation of city ordinance.

Removing the signs, and repairing the damage caused by the signs to public property is also costing the city money, officials complain.

For more information about this zero tolerance policy, contact Lt. Carrie Mazelin of the Monterey Park Police Department at (626) 307-1236.

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