Seniors at a local charter school this week debuted their senior project, an arts festival at the Old L.A. Farmers Markets on Marmion Way in Highland Park. The event, which doubled as a fundraiser, added cheerful teenagers and local artists to the farmers market.
The Academia Avance Class of 2013 organized the event as part of their Senior Work-Educational Experience project and as a fundraiser for the Senior International Learning Lab.
Sixteen-year-old Darwin Arriola told EGP that he and other students went business to business to invite the local establishments to participate in the festival.
“It was a lot harder than I expected,” Arriola confessed. “They would say they were interested and that they would call, but they didn’t, so we would have to keep going to remind them.”
The Academia Avance students worked with the farmers market’s sponsor, the North Figueroa Association, to bring public art, food trucks, and a stage for music performance to the event. The student-run outdoor art festival was held in conjunction with the regular Tuesday afternoon farmer’s market, which included the usual array of fresh produce, bakers, hot food vendors and local artisans.
“The mission is to expose underground artists who are unknown or not found in stores,” student Richard Tapia said in an announcement for the event.
The “Taste of Highland Art” should not be confused with a Highland Park-exclusive restaurant tasting event. On Tuesday, Monte 52 was the only Highland Park restaurant at the Farmers Old L.A. Farmers Market. Monte 52 is a sandwich shop located inside La Tropicana Market on Monte Vista Street.
Angelenos who missed Tuesday’s festival, have one more opportunity to take it in first hand, as the students will repeat the event on Tues. March 12, same location, beginning at 3 p.m.
Feelings of pride and excitement were overflowing last week at La Merced Elementary in Montebello where fourth and fifth grade students became the first of thousands of Montebello Unified School District (MUSD) students to receive wireless laptops as part of a district-wide step toward bringing 21st century technology into the classroom.
MUSD was awarded over $6 million through the federal E-Rate Technology program, which is providing funding for 12,500 laptops with 3G/4G cellular wireless access. The laptops will be distributed to all 4th through 9th grade students for use in the classroom and at home.
Gloria Diaz-Garcia and her husband Eric Garcia were overjoyed that their children’s school was picked by MUSD board members and superintendents to be the first to receive the laptops.
Diaz-Garcia told EGP they feel honored and grateful that their children are getting access to technology that will help them compete academically, and expose them to the world beyond their neighborhood.
“Through this technology, not only can they improve their skills, but they can see the world,” Garcia said. “A lot of people can’t travel but this way they could travel through the Internet.”
Their son Christian is in the 4th grade and he told EGP that he is excited about the changes taking place in his classroom.
“I never had a computer [before] at school,” he said. “Instead of writing, we’re just going to type!”
The first distribution was a historical day for the district, MUSD Board President Hector Chacon told EGP, noting that only a few school districts across the country received the grant.
“Not all students in the nation are fortunate enough to have this technology in the classroom,” Chacon said.
LA Merced parent Esperanza Reynosa told EGP that the funding grant is a help to parents who would otherwise not be able to provide computers to their children.
“Some parents are going through economic struggles so [the laptops] are going to be a really great tool for their children to advance in schoolwork,” Reynosa said.
Not until the students are taught how to use and care for the laptops, however, and they get the required agreement forms signed by their parents, will they be able to take the laptops home to work on homework and to access the Internet.
Cristina Baeza was one of the first students to receive a laptop. She told EGP that once she learns how to use the software she will be able to work on class projects and presentations at home.
Iris Molina told EGP her daughter was very excited about having a laptop in class and expressed relief that these young students will be taught how to use technology responsibly.
“It’s a good to start learning technology in a school setting where they’re going to show her how to use it as an educational tool,” Molina said.
The rest of the school district’s 4th through 9th graders will receive laptops in the coming months, according to Chacon. He said the new laptops will help give students a “21st century learning” experience.
“It will give our students a competitive edge with technology,” Chacon said. “It’s going go help them learn and integrate the classroom with technology.
When little Jimmy broke his ankle, his parents iced it for a week before seeking medical attention—it didn’t heal on its own as they had hoped. Today, that child, who did not have medical insurance for a great part of his life, represents the 51st Assembly District.
Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Asambleísta Gómez Visita Centro de Salud Local
Recently elected Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, who during his campaign identified health care as one of his priorities, visited with Arroyo Vista Family Health Center administrators and staff, as well as active members of the Lincoln Heights community on March 1.
While others in the legislature talk about access to healthcare in theoretical terms, Gomez says he has personal experience in the area as one of six children from a hard-working Mexican immigrant family. He said he knows first hand the important role clinics like Arroyo Vista play in low-income communities.
“That’s our community, they don’t want to be a burden, so they wait to see if their kids heal or if they get better,” Gomez said, noting that when they wait, they usually just get worse.
During the meet and greet at the clinic on Norht Broadway in Lincoln Heights, Gomez said he is one of three freshmen serving on the Assembly Health Committee and that he is very proud that his first vote as an assemblyman was not on a resolution or something with little impact, but on two bills that are part of a legislative package for California’s implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act.
Assembly Speaker John Pérez’s AB 1X-1 calls for expanding access to the Medi-Cal program by updating the income level requirement to reflect current cost of living figures. ABX1-2, authored by Assemblyman Richard Pan, prohibits using pre-existing conditions as a factor in denying individuals health insurance coverage. Pan’s bill also will establish geographic rating regions to determine rates in different parts of California. Both the Senate and Assembly are working through identical legislation, Gomez said.
Making good on his promise to focus on health care, Gomez is visiting local institutions “to learn” so as to not make assumptions about healthcare providers’ side on health care related issues.
While at the clinic, Gomez viewed a PowerPoint presentation by Arroyo Vista administrator Sam Vega on the healthcare provider’s history, growth and preparations for the healthcare reform that takes effect in 2014.
Arroyo Vista CEO Lorraine Estradas thanked Gomez for accepting their invitation to visit the medical center, “I know we’re just so thrilled… we are honored you are here,” she said.
Arroyo Vista recently transitioned its five clinics to an electronic records system and received JAYCO recertification of its sites and certification as a Patient-Centered Medical Home—a mandated under the health care reform.
Steve Kasten, local business owner and chamber member, invited Gomez to speak at a Lincoln Heights Chamber luncheon at a future date. Kasten noted four members of the chamber were present for the meeting.
Gomez’s visit to Arroyo Visa concluded with a tour of the facility, during which he was able to take a closer look at the myriad of services offered to the clinic’s mostly low-income, many of them uninsured, patients.
Small-scale food businesses that sell out of their home kitchens were deemed legal earlier this year by passage of a state law to recognize them as “cottage food operations.”
However, citing conflicts with the city’s zoning code the Bell Gardens City Council, last week passed an emergency ordinance to temporarily delay the law from going into affect for 45 days. Currently, small-scale businesses that sell food out of their homes are not permitted under the city’s land use regulations, which limit noise, traffic and odor in residential areas.
Assembly Bill 1616, “The California Homemade Food Act,” was passed by state legislators in September 2012 and took effect on Jan. 1 of this year. The law made it legal for individuals throughout the state to sell food out of their home, in what is called a Cottage Food Operations (CFO).
Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Bell Gardens Demora el Inicio de la Ley Estatal de Alimentos Caseros
Only “non-potentially hazardous” foods are permitted under the law. Permitted food include baked goods, candy, churros, tortillas, popcorn, fruit-tamales, dried fruits, chocolate-covered nonperishable food and coffee, to name a few. Foods that contain cream, custard or meat fillings that require refrigeration are considered potentially hazardous, and therefore are not allowed.
Bell Gardens Director of Community Development, Abel Avalos, told EGP that the emergency ordinance passed at the Feb. 25 council meeting only temporarily delays the Food Act going into affect in the city, and is in no way an attempt by the city to purposely circumvent the law.
Avalos said the city needs time to analyze the Food Act and to come up with an ordinance that can be incorporated into the city’s zoning code that would allow for small-scale businesses in residential areas.
The state law legally allows for the city to temporarily delay its adoption in order for the city to come up with reasonable restrictions that would protect public health and safety.
“[The Homemade Food Act] recognizes that cities have zoning and land use codes that aren’t conducive for these kind of businesses,” Avalos said.
He said the city is looking into what reasonable restrictions can be included in the ordinance and zoning codes, such as restrictions on the floor space of a residence, hours of operations and the number of businesses per lot, which he said could affect traffic congestion, density and create nuisance.
Avalos told EGP it is not an “uncommon practice” for cities to delay adopting a state law in order to analyze how to best incorporate it into the city’s regulations and be able to effectively police it.
Bell Gardens is looking at other cities and expects to create reasonable restrictions and guidelines, Avalos said.
The Food Act does restrict the number of non-family employees to one per business and gross annual sales to no more than $35,000 for the year 2013. New CFOs (cottage food operations) must register with the county and complete a food processor course within three months of obtaining their CFO status.
Before the 45-day moratorium expires, the city’s Community Development Department will present its findings to the council and determine if it needs more time to come up with needed regulations before it allow the Homemade Food Act to go forward in the city.
After surviving Tuesday’s mayoral primary election, City Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel wasted no time Wednesday getting back on the campaign trail, with Garcetti thanking and rallying supporters in Atwater Village and Greuel picking up a key union endorsement.
As expected, Garcetti and Greuel – who led all their opponents in fundraising – topped the eight-candidate field in Tuesday’s primary to advance to a May 21 runoff election in their race to replace Antonio Villaraigosa.
Councilwoman Jan Perry was a distant third in the race, followed by businessman Kevin James.
Garcetti, the top vote-getter in the primary, held a rally at the Van de Kamp Job Training Center in Atwater Village, thanking his supporters and urging them to continue their push to the runoff. He also took a shot at Greuel, insinuating she would be a mayor beholden to her major campaign backers – unions.
“This city has a choice to make,” he said. “It’s a choice between a mayor’s office that’s bought and paid for by power brokers and the DWP union, or a mayor’s office that’s truly of the people, by the people and for the people of Los Angeles.”
Greuel received the endorsement Wednesday of the Service Employees International Union Local 721, one of the city’s most influential employee labor groups. Union officials, who did not endorse a mayoral candidate prior to Tuesday’s primary, said Greuel has always “kept her door open” and understands how to partner with city employees to tackle the city’s budget problems.
“She knows that members of SEIU 721 and the Coalition of LA City Unions kept this city running during the last budget crisis by agreeing to a savings package, which included real pension reform that saved the city $850 million,” SEIU 721 President Bob Schoonover said.
He added that Greuel was receptive to their idea of staffing police department desk jobs with civilians in order to “get more cops on the streets.”
Another SEIU local, the United Long Term Care Workers, also threw its backing behind Greuel.
Greuel took some heat in the primary campaign for her close ties with – and financial backing from – unions such as the IBEW Local 18, which represents Department of Water and Power workers, and the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the police union. A recent tally put union contributions to a super PAC supporting Greuel’s campaign at $2.5 million.
A campaign promise by Greuel to increase police ranks by 2,000 officers was slammed by her opponents as unreasonable, if not suspect, given the city’s budget and the types of groups funding her campaign.
Greuel, 51, tried to counter the perception she would bow to union pressure by promising not to raise salaries for DWP workers if the city still faces a deficit next year.
Greuel, who would become the city’s first female mayor if elected, also took a shot at Garcetti Wednesday after touring an eco-friendly fountain-design company.
“My opponent would suggest there isn’t any waste in Los Angeles, and there’s nothing we can do to get back some money as we go forward that could go for the kind of services for police and fire and all the other services that we provide to the residents of Los Angeles,” she said. “I know there is.”
At his election-night party in Hollywood, Garcetti, 42, rallied his supporters by echoing a theme of his campaign – job creation and development in his 13th District. He also touted his “record of real pension reform, of responsible budget cutting, of getting ourselves through tough times so that we could protect core services that people depend on in our neighborhoods.”
“It’s why this district is ranked number one by the Chamber of Commerce in job growth in the midst of a recession,” he said. The city’s looming $200 million-plus budget deficit in the upcoming year is arguably the most pressing issue on tap for L.A.’s next chief executive. Along with ballooning pension costs, the future mayor will be faced with a shortage of funds that could jeopardize critical services in years to come.
Garcetti has had to counter claims that he helped contribute to the budget deficit by voting to raise salaries for public safety and other city employees.
During the campaign, Garcetti touted his role in the redevelopment of once-blighted areas of Hollywood, as well as his record on environmentally friendly policy-making – such as solar-energy initiatives – and his endorsement by the Sierra Club.
Unlike Greuel, Garcetti swore off independent contributions throughout much of his campaign, and as a result trailed in spending power. A PAC supporting Garcetti was recently formed for the May 21 general election.
L.A. City Council Races
About 90,000 ballots from Tuesday’s primary election remained uncounted late Wednesday, casting a hint of uncertainty over City Council races in which two candidates narrowly earned enough votes to win seats outright, while another barely missed the cut and appeared bound for a runoff.
Among the races that could hinge on uncounted ballots is the 1st District race to replace termed-out Councilman Ed Reyes. Former Assemblyman Gil Cedillo narrowly fell below the 50 percent mark, with unofficial final tallies giving him 49.4 percent — about 83 votes shy of winning the seat outright. If that percentage holds, Cedillo will be forced to the May 21 runoff against Jose Gardea, Reyes’ longtime chief of staff, in the battle to represent the district, which includes northeast Los Angeles, Chinatown and Pico-Union.
City clerk officials, who could not provide a district-by-district breakdown of the remaining ballots, have until March 26 to complete the count, according to spokeswoman Kimberly Briggs.
The remaining ballots include about 24,000 late vote-by-mail ballots, 27,000 vote-by-mail ballots that were turned in at polling places, 24,000 provisional ballots and more than 14,000 questioned ballots.
Thousands of unborn Americans have no say on whether the process of across-the-board federal budget cuts – the so-called “sequestration” — should move forward after officially going into effect March 1.
Although still in the womb, those infants will be among the Americans most affected by the sequestered loss of close to $700 million to the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program for lower-income families, compared to 2012 funding levels, according to a report released this week by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
The reduction in WIC funding will have an immediate impact on new African American mothers because they breastfeed less frequently than many of their peers from other groups. Latino families are also likely to be hard hit, the report said.
“Cuts to postpartum women who are not breastfeeding will fall disproportionately on African American women,” the report notes. “Cuts to children will fall disproportionately on Latino families. Latinos represent 38 percent of infants participating in WIC and 39 percent of women, but 45 percent of children.”
Unborn and Breast-Feeding Infants
Unborn and breast-feeding infants are even more dependent on nourishment from their low-income mothers than the very young children that WIC is also designed to serve, but all rely on the program to stretch meager household food budgets.
Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, WIC (formally called the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) is a $7 billion program serving an estimated 9 million individuals nationwide.
The report from CBPP, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C., explains that states may vary in how they choose to downsize their eligibility rolls to offset the loss of federal money. Some states may make gradual changes in managing their caseloads; others may take immediate and more dramatic actions.
Should Congress not restore funds by Sept. 30 (the end of the current fiscal year), according to the report, “based on the ways in which states are most likely to institute the cuts, we estimate that by the end of the fiscal year, the number of participants whom WIC is serving would have to be 600,000 to 775,000 women and children fewer than the program served in an average month of fiscal year 2012.”
WIC, a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is usually touted as being one of the most successful intervention programs to target low-income mothers and their children. The program, however, has not been without its critics, some of whom consider it to be a corporate subsidy program for manufacturers and marketers of WIC-approved products.
The CBPP report does not address those controversies, but it does summarize 2012 USDA research showing that “WIC participation contributes to healthier births, higher intake of key nutrients, less consumption of sugar and fats, and a stronger connection to preventive health care.”
Misinformation Could Spread
The downsizing of WIC funding was not the CBPP report’s only concern. The public’s reaction to learning about changes to WIC, depending on how each state chooses to adjust to the loss of funds, could have negative repercussions with serious health consequences.
The report states, “To be sure, most states should be able to achieve the necessary spending cuts without denying benefits to…pregnant women and infants.”
The study’s authors caution, “Once states begin denying benefits to other families, however — including non-breastfeeding women who have just given birth and children as young as one or two — misinformation is likely to spread. Some eligible women who are pregnant or have an infant may come to believe they can no longer get benefits either, and may not apply for them.”
A woman’s physical health is not only adversely affected by the lack of sufficient nutrition for herself and/or her children, but stress induces negative health consequences of its own.
“Programs like WIC that help poor families with pregnant women or very young children afford the basics,” the report states, “may help improve longer-term outcomes for children by reducing the added stress that parents or children may experience if they cannot pay their bills or do not know if there will be adequate food.”
This story was originally posted on the New America Media website.
Thieves with crowbars are going to break a sweat, and may even break their backs, if they try to steal newly installed bronze plaques at the All Wars Memorial located on a traffic island at the intersection of Lorena, Indiana and Cesar E. Chavez Avenue in Boyle Heights.
Sometime between October and November 2012, three of the memorial’s bronze plaques were stolen and a fourth plaque was damaged by vandals who police believe may have wanted to sell them for scrap metal, or taken by collectors of this type of memorabilia.
Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Monumento a los Veteranos México-Americanos Restaurado en el Este de Los Ángeles
The four plaques have now been replaced or restored, thanks to Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez.
Upon learning that the memorial had been vandalized just before Veterans Day 2012, Speaker Pérez pledged to see to it that the stolen plaques were replaced. He made good on the commitment on March 1 during a ceremony marking the monument’s restoration. Additional measures were taken to secure the plaques and protect them from precious metal thieves, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4696 Commander Tony Zapata told EGP.
“Through the Civil War, two World Wars, and up to our conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Latinos have proudly donned the uniform of the United States Military to safeguard our freedoms and defend our way of life,” said Pérez in a written statement. “This monument speaks to their valor and their dedication; to their willingness to give what Abraham Lincoln called their ‘last full measure of devotion…that a nation might live.’”
Pérez represents the 53rd Assembly District, including the section of Boyle Heights where the memorial is located. The Cinco Puntos intersection is located just within his district’s eastern border on North Indiana Street.
The All Wars Memorial in Boyle Heights was originally constructed in 1947 to honor Mexican Americas who served in the US armed forces. Eugene A. Obregon American Legion Post 804 hold ceremonies at the location to honor veterans, like the Annual Memorial Day Observance and 24-Hour Patriotic Vigil, as well as Veterans Day ceremonies.
Zapata told EGP that he and the other veteran members of American Legion Post 804 are grateful Perez has restored the site that means so much to them and to all veterans.
“I want to thank Speaker of the Assembly John Pérez for his involvement in procuring and security the plaques to put them back up again,” said Zapata, who also thanked everyone for attending the installation ceremony.
Pérez secured the funds to pay for the new plaques to replace the three stolen and for the repair of the plaque that was damaged, according to Zapata. He said several measures have been taken to keep thieves from stealing them again, including using screws twice the length as the previous ones to affix them to the monument and cementing in the outer edges of the plaques.
Zapata said he is planning to talk to the LAPD detective on the still unsolved case to discuss additional security measures, such as installing surveillance cameras.
Last week’s ceremony however was not without controversy.
At one point during the festivities, Eddie Morin, the son of Raul Morin, a highly decorated World War II veteran and author who passed away in 1967, rushed the podium, but was held back and not allowed to speak, according to Zapata.
Related story: Stolen Veterans Memorial Plaques Raise Old Controversy
Related story: Mexican American Veterans’ Memorial In East L.A. Vandalized
Morin has long disputed referring to the site as the “All Wars Memorial.” He says that, historically, the memorial was only meant to honor World War II veterans like his father, whose name is on the Raul Morin Memorial Square memorial, which he claims is the official name for the site. He says calling the monument the All Wars Memorial diminishes his father’s legacy as a war hero, and the legacy of those who served during World War II. It’s a complaint that other veterans from the area dispute and see as divisive.
Nonetheless, and despite the attempted disruption, veterans at the plaque installation ceremony were overwhelmingly pleased to see the memorial as a respected site once again.
A three-part series on Autism in the local Latino and Spanish-speaking immigrant community published in this newspaper will be honored today by New America Media, a national association of ethnic media outlets.
The bilingual series “Major Hurdles for Latino Parents with Autistic Children,” written by EGP Staff Writer and Spanish-Section Editor Gloria Angelina Castillo, focused on the lack of culturally relevant information for monolingual Spanish-speakers in the Greater East Los Angeles area.
The 2013 New America Media Ethnic Media Award winners were announced on Feb. 28, and listed Castillo as the winner in the print category for Outstanding Reporting on Health and Health Care.
The three-part series was published in May 2012 at about the same time public health officials started calling the disability a “pandemic.”
Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: EGP Gana Premio por una Serie Acerca del Autismo en la Comunidad Hispana Local
Castillo interviewed autism experts, community advocates, researchers, public figures, as well as parents and children for the special report that underscored the greater need for data, tools and resources to help Latino parents advocate for their children with autism. Castillo’s series pointed out the severe lack of outreach and Spanish language materials directed at the Latino population, by government and health agencies, as wells as national and local autism advocacy groups.
The series was published last year in both English and Spanish in all 11 of Eastern Group Publications newspapers, and was produced in collaboration with the USC Annenberg / California Endowment Journalism Fellowships program.
New America Media (NAM), the nation’s largest association of ethnic media outlets, received over 150 individual entries from across Southern California for media outlets that serve Latino, African-American, Jewish, Middle Eastern, Armenian, Native-American, and numerous linguistically diverse Asian-American communities, according to NAM Awards Chair Odette Keeley.
The first place winners in 13 categories including Governance and Electoral Politics, Civil Liberties, International Affairs, Health, Education, Environment, Economy, Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Sports and Community Advocacy, will be recognized tonight at an awards gala in Pasadena.
In 2011, EGP’s Castillo was part of a team of media outlets that were recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists’ Award for Excellence in Health Care Journalism for the multi-lingual, multi-media series “Adult Health Center Cuts Devastate Elderly, Disabled,” which earned an Honorable Mention in the Consumer/Feature (large) category for the joint project that included EGP, LA Beez, New America Media and the California Health Care Foundation’s Center for Health Reporting.
To read the series: SPECIAL REPORT: Latino Parents With Autistic Children Face Major Hurdles
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday committed to spend $15 million on affordable housing, using money from redevelopment agency accounts dissolved by state law.
The board stopped short of a five-year, $75 million pledge recommended by Supervisors Gloria Molina and Mark Ridley-Thomas.
“Since the dissolution of redevelopment, Los Angeles County has received approximately $75 million from redevelopment agencies’ housing set-aside accounts – all resources that were intended for the development of affordable housing projects,” Molina said. She urged the board to “take the
dollars that have come into the county and put them back out.”
Developers of affordable, supportive housing warned that the number of projects was in decline after the disbanding of redevelopment agencies, while demand was as high as ever.
Will Cipes of developer Thomas Safran & Associates said 4,700 people requested applications on the first day they became available for Jefferson Square Apartments, a 40-unit affordable housing project in Jefferson Park.
Several developers said they needed local commitments in order to access federal and state resources, including tax credits.
“The funds are especially critical at this time,” said David Howden of the Corporation for Supportive Housing.
But Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a longtime champion of affordable housing, said that until the county reviewed its budget in June, he would advise against a five-year commitment.
Instead, he asked his colleagues to approve $15 million for this year, hold the funds aside in a separate account and determine during budget deliberations “what we can afford to earmark in the coming months and years.”
Yaroslavsky said the three-month delay would not create a gap in the momentum for new projects.
The board’s vote in favor of $15 million in funding was unanimous and prompted the boardroom audience to break into applause.