Comité del Concilio de L.A. Trabaja en un Plan para Legalizar las Ventas Ambulantes

May 15, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Caridad Vázquez fue una de las decenas de vendedores ambulantes que se presentaron ante un comité del Consejo de la Ciudad de Los Ángeles el martes en apoyo a la legalización de la venta ambulante en la ciudad.

Acompañada por una traductora, la residente de Boyle Heights, dijo al comité que la ciudad debe permitir a los vendedores como ella obtener permisos para vender sus productos en las aceras de la ciudad. “Estoy pidiendo a los miembros del consejo su apoyo, estoy apoyando esta lucha para que podamos ayudar a nuestras familias” financieramente, dijo en español.

Caridad Vázquez (tercera de der. a izq.) vendedora ambulante de antojitos mexicanos llegó al comité del consejo de L.A. para pedir que se apruebe un permiso para ventas ambulantes. (EGP foto por Ana Gonzalez)

Caridad Vázquez (tercera de der. a izq.) vendedora ambulante de antojitos mexicanos llegó al comité del consejo de L.A. para pedir que se apruebe un permiso para ventas ambulantes. (EGP foto por Ana Gonzalez)

En noviembre del año pasado, los Concejales Curren Price y José Huizar presentaron una moción dirigida a funcionarios de la ciudad para que en 90 días dieran un informe de un sistema posible para permitir que los vendedores que venden alimentos y mercancía en las aceras de la ciudad puedan hacerlo legalmente. La moción fue remitida a las comisiones de Desarrollo Económico y de Obras Públicas y Reducción de Pandillas para su revisión. El martes, el Comité de Desarrollo Económico llevó a cabo su primera audiencia y escucharon testimonios públicos sobre el tema.

Vendedores que llegaron de toda la ciudad y sus aliados dijeron que la actual prohibición de vendedores ambulantes en las aceras no funciona. A pesar de ser ilegal, vendedores ambulantes venden hot dogs, tacos y otros alimentos por toda la ciudad. Lo hacen por necesidad financiera, pero desde el año 2012 cerca de 2.000 vendedores ambulantes han sido arrestados por participar en estas actividades, se le dijo al comité.

Read this article in English: L.A. Council Committee to Work on Plan to Permit Street Vendors

Vázquez dijo a EGP que ella ha trabajado como vendedora ambulante por 10 años. Ella dijo que está cansada del constante acoso y amenazas de la policía. Agregó que la ciudad y la policía hacen “difícil” que los vendedores puedan ganarse la vida sólo porque no tienen permiso. Ella dijo que la mayoría de los vendedores ambulantes están dispuestos a pagar por un permiso que les permita practicar sus trabajos legalmente. “Yo pago impuestos, a pesar de que no tengo un permiso”, agregó.

Dolores Castro vive en South Gate, pero por los pasados 18 años se ha dedicado a la venta de accesorios de celulares en el Fashion District “los callejones” en el centro de Los Ángeles.

Ella dijo que la policía no les permite hacer su trabajo. “Ellos confiscan nuestra mercancía cuando todo lo que estamos tratando de hacer es mantener a nuestras familias”, dijo ante el comité en español.

“Todos los vendedores ambulantes contribuyen a la economía, aunque sea un poco”, agregó.

Varios oradores dijeron que los empleadores sólo les dan unas cuantas horas de trabajo cada semana y la venta ambulante es lo que les previene de convertirse en desamparados. Otros dijeron que son demasiado viejos y nadie los contrata.

El Fiscal Defensor Público Dough Smith de Public Counsel, dijo que su organización trabaja con las comunidades más afectadas por la recesión económica que se enfrentan a la desinversión y la falta de oportunidades financieras.

“La venta ambulante representa una muy buena oportunidad para construir pequeñas empresas y mantener a sus familias y participar en la economía”, Smith le dijo a EGP. “Creemos que es importante que la ciudad reconozca esto como una oportunidad para ganar un poco de movilidad económica”, agregó.

Mientras que la mayoría de los oradores se pronunciaron a favor de que la ciudad apruebe un proceso de permisos para vendedores ambulantes, pocos oradores dijeron que están preocupados que la aprobación hará daño a los negocios establecidos de la ciudad que ya pagan impuestos y que también fueron lastimados en la crisis económica. Dijeron que los vendedores ambulantes quitan los negocios y en el caso de Hollywood, aleja a turistas de la zona turística emblemática de la ciudad.

No hubo decisión relativa ante la norma en la reunión, pero el comité votó para crear un grupo de trabajo para diseñar una forma para que los vendedores puedan solicitar permisos y demostrar que están siguiendo las leyes de salud y otras regulaciones de la ciudad. Se le pidió al grupo entregar un informe en 90 días.

Huizar le dijo a EGP que el sistema actual no funciona y que la falta de regulación ha creado este “caos”.

“Los vendedores que sólo quieren ganarse la vida están siendo perseguidos por la policía. Restaurantes y dueños de negocios no les gusta la competencia frente a sus puertas de personas que no pagan impuestos”, dijo Huizar. “Estamos tratando de encontrar ese equilibrio para permitir la venta ambulante, pero al mismo tiempo proteger a las empresas”, agregó.

El concejal Gil Cedillo dijo que el comité tiene que sentarse con los autores del informe—el cual les fue dado al comité el mismo día— y hablar sobre una posible política de lo que se puede y no puede hacer. Dijo que le preocupa que la mayoría de los vendedores ambulantes son inmigrantes indocumentados y si la policía los detiene, corren el riesgo de ser llevados a la cárcel y eventualmente deportados. Es una “crisis”, dijo, y agregó que no quiere ver más familias separadas.

“No podemos criminalizar a las personas que están trabajando”, Cedillo le dijo a EGP. “Pero al mismo tiempo, no podemos poner los negocios que han hecho una inversión financiera en desventaja”, agregó. “Al ver esto [tanta gente presente] es muy poderoso”, enfatizó y dijo estar abierto a encontrar una solución que funcione para todos.

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Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

CSULA, ELAC, Garfield High Partnership Targets East L.A. Students for College Pathway

May 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

An initiative aimed at encouraging more students from the East Los Angeles area to pursue a college degree by guaranteeing them admission to Cal State Los Angeles was unveiled last week by education officials.

“GO East L.A.: A Pathway for College and Career Success” is a partnership between Garfield High School, East Los Angeles College and Cal State L.A. Developed by LA Unified School Board Member Monica Garcia, ELAC President Marvin Martinez and Cal State L.A. President William A. Covino, the initiative gives students from Garfield High School and ELAC priority admission to Cal State L.A. if they meet certain qualifications.

The creators of the initiative say their vision is to develop a “community-wide cradle-to-career educational system” that supports area youth from pre-school through college graduation with the tools to be successful at each level of the education system, as well as give them a pathway to college. The goal is to ensure students attending Garfield High School and ELAC in East L.A. get the skills they need to “contribute to the health and economic vitality of the community,” according to a statement released by ELAC.

The GO East L.A. initiative was unveiled May 8 at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

The GO East L.A. initiative was unveiled May 8 at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

Through GO East L.A., students attending Garfield High School will receive support for achieving their after high school academic goals, whether they first attend ELAC or go straight to Cal State L.A. Students attending ELAC will also get targeted assistance to help them transfer to Cal State L.A.

Among other things, the initiative calls for gathering private and public resources to provide more academic and counseling support to Garfield and ELAC students to make sure they are successfully completing the classes they need to attend Cal State L.A. Students will be encouraged to take more college-prep classes and courses that qualify for college credit while still in high school.

Lea este artículo en Español: Se Refuerza Asociación Entre Garfield, ELAC y CSULA para Mejoras de Educación

Garfield High School, at one time one of the most over-crowded LAUSD campuses, currently enrolls about 2.500 students and had a graduation rate in 2011-12 of 87.3%, according to Garfield Principal, Jose Huerta.

Board Member Garcia said Go East L.A.’s objective is to remove obstacles faced by many eastise students so they can graduate in less time and enter the workforce with a degree in their hands. The partnership is committed to holding themselves “accountable” for the success of the students, officials said.

“We will start by getting our professors and our teachers talking to each other,” Garcia told EGP. “The counselors at the campuses talking to each other too,” she said. “…Garfield High School class of 2014 is already connected with ELAC and Cal State L.A.” she added.

Garfield senior Julia Soto told EGP the initiative is a great resource for her because she plans to get her Associates Degree or enter a nursing program and to eventually get a Bachelors of Science degree. “This program is encouraging [us] to go to ELAC and then transfer to Cal State L.A. with priority registration,” she said following the press conference held May 8 at Garfield.

Soto said she is currently taking college classes on the weekends to accelerate her college degree. “People from ELAC come on Saturdays to give us classes,” she said. “They motivate us to continue with our studies.”

Huerta told EGP he is “very impressed and honored” that Garfield’s achievements are being recognized.

For now, the high school portion of the initiative is limited Garfield, but Garcia said she hopes other eastside schools, such as Esteban Torres and the Solis Learning Academy will be added in the next round.

While the three educational institutions have always had a relationship, Garcia said she hopes this new effort will make the relationship and objectives clearer. “What we want to see in the GO East L.A. program is better organization around the programs, the supports and the outcomes,” she told EGP.

Local businesses will also provide help to needy students. Among the local supporters, Grifols Worldwide, a global healthcare group adjacent to the Cal State L.A. campus, has donated $50,000 for scholarships for students in the program.

GO East L.A. will also develop support programs geared toward helping students earn a college degree or career required certificates, as well as build college awareness through outreach to middle schools and partnerships with community groups and parents to promote college attendance and college-ready skills.

GO East L.A. hopes to include East L.A. area middle schools, such as Belvedere, Griffith and Stevenson, to the outreach effort.

Garcia said she hopes to see programs that work eventually expanded to schools outside of East L.A.

“We want to see a GO Lincoln Heights, GO Boyle Heights,” she said. “We need to see all of them to get to the finishing line.”

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Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Hoping to Save the Environment, Bell Gardens Students Study Plastic Bag Ban

May 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

After several failed attempts, a State Assembly committee on Wednesday approved a bill that authorizes a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags in California grocery stores, convenience stores, liquor stores and pharmacies. The vote comes one day after students in a Bell Gardens High School advanced placement environmental science class got to work trying to achieve the same goal closer to home.

With AP (advanced placement) exams out of the way, juniors and seniors in Patricia Jimenez’ class on Tuesday decided their end of the year project would be to explore the possibility of pushing for a ban on plastic bags in the city of Bell Gardens. They are going to research the impact such a ban would have in the city as they prepare to ask residents if they are willing to trade in their plastic bags for reusable totes.

The students have until the end of the school year in June to research, survey, and develop a strategy to determine the feasibility and environmental benefits of banning the bags distributed by retailers in the city.

AP Environmental Science students at Bell Gardens High School on Tuesday discussed the pros and cons of banning plastic bags in the city.   (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez )

AP Environmental Science students at Bell Gardens High School on Tuesday discussed the pros and cons of banning plastic bags in the city. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez )

It’s a proposal that according to Bell Gardens City Manager Phil Wagner has never been considered by the city.

“This is a project that we want to bring [to the community],” said Kimberly Valle, 16, one of the more outspoken students. “It’s not like we’re expecting them [residents] to change from one day to the next,” she said.

The 25 AP students, some of the school’s highest academic achievers, have studied water pollution this year. The course has made them more aware of the detrimental impact human practices, including man-made items like plastic bags, have on the environment. They also understand that there is often resistance to change, and on Tuesday discussed the possible roadblocks they could face if they take their project outside the school venue and into city hall chambers.

“Are we making them switch to paper?” asked one student.

“Who is our target audience?” asked Brian Sanchez, 17, one of the group team leaders.

“I think we should survey outside stores,” suggested Viviana Rodriguez, 17. “If you just survey the students, it’s not like we’re the ones going out to do the shopping,” she said. “It’s our parents who do the shopping,” she emphasized.

After much debate, the class decided they would talk to students and everyday consumers like their parents about the importance of saying goodbye to plastic bags.

“Plastic bags not only contaminate because of the plastic, but the way they make them involves oil, which becomes a polluter,” said Valle. “Students are going to be the next generation … to deal with it,” she said.

The environmentally conscious group brainstormed ways to reach out to local businesses that may be willing to offer discounts to customers who bring in their own reusable bags.

“In the long run, if they are not using plastic bags it’s lessoning [the company’s] consumption” costs, said seventeen-year-old Cecilia Botello. “But my mom is going to say, ‘if I have to buy a bag then I want something out of it.’”

Vianney Avina, 16, told the group that once the class has finished their research, they should take their findings to a Bell Gardens City Council meeting and ask the council to approve a ban on plastic bags in the city.

“[City hall] is our main target because once they enforce it, all the stores have to enforce it,”  Valle said.

The class hopes to transform their ideas and words into action by coming up with environmentally and scientifically sound research to back their call for an end to  city’s retailers being allowed to give out plastic bans for free.

“If we just tell our families, ‘let’s all stop using plastic bags,’ they’re are not gong to listen,” said Valle. She suggested they print pictures showing where plastic bags end up as a way to get their parents’ attention.

Botello suggested using social media to promote their message.

“If we get them to scroll down and see the photos, we at least know that they thought about bags for at least five seconds.”

Playing the devil’s advocate, student teacher Wesley Hom reminded the class that getting people to stop using plastic bags will not be easy. He said many residents might not care about the environment and like the everyday convenience free plastic bags offer when they shop.

Students argued, however, that ensuring a green environment for future generations is a valuable long-term goal.

“If other cities can do it why can’t we do it,” said Valle. “Bell Gardens is not a big city and yes we’re mainly Latinos, but Culver City has a lot of Latinos … and the Latinos adapted,” she said referring to other cities such as Santa Monica, Los Angeles and Culver City that have all recently banned single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores and pharmacies. She said those cities require businesses to charge customers for paper bags if they don’t have reusable bags. The added cost is an incentive to change, she said.

Hom, however, pointed out the “difference in culture and demographics” in those cities compared to Bell Gardens. He said those differences could make a ban harder to achieve.

As the students murmured among themselves about ways they could convince an entire city of mostly Spanish speaking, low-income immigrants to change their long-time practices for a new practice that would likely cost them more money, one student was clearly not swayed that theirs is a lost cause.

“Granted, it’s a different group we’re targeting, but if they can do it without focusing on all those cons then why can’t we,” said Valle. “We’re taking a step ahead of the game … [But] if we don’t make that step now, when we’re older we are going to pay for it.”

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Twitter @nancyreporting

nmartinez@egpnews.com

Estudiantes de Bell Gardens Estudian la Posible Prohibición de Bolsas de Plástico

May 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Aunque el año escolar este llegando a su fin, los alumnos de la clase de colocación avanzada  de ciencias ambientales en la preparatoria Bell Gardens han comenzado un proyecto del cual esperan dejar su marca más allá de las puertas de la escuela.

Con los exámenes AP (colocación avanzada) terminados, estudiantes del grado 11 y 12 de la clase de Patricia Jiménez decidieron el martes que su proyecto del fin de año sería explorar la posibilidad de impulsar una prohibición de las bolsas de plástico en la ciudad de Bell Gardens. Ellos van a investigar el impacto que dicha prohibición tendría en la ciudad mientras se preparan para preguntar a los residentes si están dispuestos a cambiar sus bolsas de plástico por bolsas reutilizables.

Estudiantes de clases AP se reunen para hablar sobre el proyecto de bolsas reutilizables. (EGP foto por Nancy Martinez)

Estudiantes de clases AP se reunen para hablar sobre el proyecto de bolsas reutilizables. (EGP foto por Nancy Martinez)

Los estudiantes tienen hasta el fin del año escolar en junio para la investigación, estudio, y desarrollo de una estrategia para determinar la viabilidad y los beneficios ambientales de la prohibición de las bolsas distribuidas por los negocios de la ciudad.

Es una propuesta que, según el Administrador Municipal de Bell Gardens, Phil Wagner nunca antes ha sido considerada por la ciudad.

“Este es un proyecto que queremos llevar [a la comunidad]”, dijo Kimberly Valle, 16, una de las estudiantes participantes. “No es como que estamos esperando que ellos [los residentes] cambien de un día para otro”, dijo.

Los 25 estudiantes de AP, algunos con  los más altos logros académicos de la escuela, han estudiado la contaminación del agua de este año. El curso los ha hecho más conscientes sobre el impacto prejudicial de las prácticas del ser humano, incluidos los elementos hechos por el hombre como bolsas de plástico y su impacto en el medio ambiente. También entienden que a menudo hay resistencia al cambio, y el martes discutieron los posibles obstáculos que podrían enfrentar si toman su proyecto fuera de la sede de la escuela hacia la junta del concilio de la ciudad.

“¿Estamos haciendo que cambien al papel?”, preguntó un estudiante.

“¿Quién es nuestro enfoque de audiencia?”, preguntó Brian Sánchez, 17, uno de los lideres de equipo del grupo.

“Creo que deberíamos encuestar afuera de las tiendas”, sugirió Viviana Rodríguez, 17. “Si sólo encuestas a los estudiantes, no es como que nosotros somos quienes hacen la compras”, dijo. “Son nuestros padres quienes las hacen”, enfatizó .

Después de debatir, la clase decidió que hablarían con los estudiantes y consumidores diarios al igual que con sus padres sobre la importancia de decir adiós a las bolsas de plástico.

“Las bolsas plásticas no sólo contaminan a causa del plástico, pero la forma en que se hacen involucra petróleo, que se convierte en un contaminante”, dijo Valle. “Los estudiantes van a ser la próxima generación … que lidiarán con esto”, dijo.

El grupo con conciencia ambiental compartieron ideas de cómo llegar a negocios locales que puedan estar dispuestos a ofrecer descuentos a los clientes que traigan sus propias bolsas reutilizables.

“A largo plazo, si no se utilizan bolsas de plástico, estarán disminuyendo el consumo [de la compañía]” en costos, dijo Cecilia Botello, de diecisiete años de edad, “Pero mi mamá va a decir, ‘si tengo que comprar una bolsa quiero algo a cambio.’”

Vianney Avina , 16, le dijo al grupo que una vez que la clase termine su investigación, deben llevar a sus hallazgos a una reunión del Ayuntamiento de Bell Gardens y pedir al consejo que aprueben la prohibición de bolsas de plástico en la ciudad.

“[El Ayuntamiento] es nuestro objetivo principal, porque una vez que ellos ejecuten la ley, todas las tiendas tendrán que cumplir”, dijo Valle.

La clase espera transformar sus ideas y las palabras en acción mediante la presentación de la investigación del medio ambiente y científicamente para respaldar su llamado para prohibir que minoristas de la ciudad continúen ofreciendo bolsas de plástico.

“Si le decimos a nuestras familias , ‘no hay que usar bolsas de plástico,’ no van a escuchar”, dijo Valle. Sugirió que impriman imágenes que muestran donde terminan las bolsas de plástico como una manera de conseguir la atención de sus padres.

Botello sugirió utilizar las redes sociales para promover su mensaje.

“Si logramos que ellos vean las fotos, por lo menos sabemos que ellos pensaban acerca de las bolsas durante al menos cinco segundos.”

Haciendo de abogado del diablo, el estudiante profesor Wesley Hom recordó a la clase que el cambio de las bolsas de plástico no será tan fácil. Él dijo que muchos residentes podrían no preocuparse por el medio ambiente, pero le gusta la comodidad cotidiana de las bolsas de plástico gratis cuando van de compras.

Los estudiantes argumentaron, sin embargo, que garantizar un entorno verde para las generaciones futuras es su meta a largo plazo.

“Si otras ciudades pueden hacerlo por qué nosotros no podemos”, dijo Valle. “ Bell Gardens no es una gran ciudad y sí somos principalmente latinos, pero Culver City tiene una gran cantidad de latinos … y los latinos se adaptaron”, dijo en referencia a otras ciudades como Santa Mónica , Los Ángeles y Culver City que recientemente han prohibido las bolsas de plástico a nivel minorista. Dijo que esas ciudades requieren que las empresas cobren a los clientes por las bolsas de papel, si no tienen bolsas reutilizables.

Hom señaló la “diferencia en la cultura y la demografía” en las ciudades en comparación con  Bell Gardens. Dijo que esas diferencias podrían hacer que una prohibición sea más difícil de lograr.

A medida que los estudiantes murmuraban entre ellos sobre formas en que podrían convencer a toda una ciudad primordialmente de habla hispana, a los inmigrantes de bajos ingresos para que cambien sus prácticas de largo plazo por una nueva práctica que probablemente les costaría más dinero, un estudiante no estaba claramente influido que esta era una causa perdida.

“De acuerdo, es un grupo diferente en el que nos estamos enfocando, pero si ellos pueden hacerlo sin centrarse en todos esos puntos en contra, entonces ¿por qué nosotros no?”, dijo Valle. “Estamos dando un paso adelante en el juego … [Pero] si no damos ese paso ahora, cuando seamos viejos vamos a pagar por ello”.

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Twitter @nancyreporting

nmartinez@egpnews.com

 

Gov. Calls State Budget ‘Good News’ for Californians

May 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Gov. Jerry Brown came to Los Angeles Tuesday to try to win support for his revised state budget proposal and “rainy day fund,” calling on legislators to spend the reserve funds wisely.

The state budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 totals $156.2 billion and includes $2.4 billion for Medi-Cal reform and $142 million for drought-response measures, such as firefighting, water management, wildlife preservation and food assistance.

Brown called on the state, school districts and teachers to work together to shore up the State Teachers’ Retirement System, which has a deficit of more than $70 billion.

At a news conference — one of three held around state — he displayed a chart showing dramatic variations in annual revenue from capital gains taxes in recent years and said some legislators believe the peaks are normal.

Brown said California was “in good shape” now, but urged fiscal caution.

“The fact that we have new revenues does not mean we are out of the woods,” Brown said.

The governor said the budget revision is good news for California and shows that the state can afford to enroll 1 million people in Medi-Cal, the health care plan for the poor.

“We can do all of that because we’ve made budget cuts, the economy is recovering, California is creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and we have the temporary tax of Proposition 30,” Brown said.

However, Chris Hoene, executive director of the nonpartisan California Budget Project said the governor’s revised budget is “a false choice between fiscal responsibility and reinvestment in public services and systems that are especially critical with so many Californians still recovering from the deepest economic downturn in generations.”

Because California’s finances are improving, Hoene said policymakers should “strike a balance” between paying down debt, saving for a rainy day and rebuilding core public services like CalWORKS and other programs “that help Californians find and keep jobs, high-quality child care and preschool, and services for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.”

The revised budget also drew criticism from Republicans and the head of the California Hospital Association and a mixed response from Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy.

Republican gubernatorial candidate, Neel Kashkari said “Brown is crossing his fingers and hoping for a roaring stock market to deal with California’s unfunded liabilities.”

“Hope is not a strategy,” said Kashkari, who served in several positions in the Treasury Department in the George W. Bush administration. “We need honest leadership and realistic forecasts to bring Californians together to solve our long-term fiscal challenges and rebuild the middle class.”

“Nothing in this budget revise will address California’s epidemic of unemployment, failing schools and crumbling infrastructure,” said Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, who is also running for governor.

Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff took exception with Brown declaring the existence of a budget surplus.

“When you have identified over $340 billion of state debt and unfunded liabilities, as the legislative analyst has, you cannot claim to have surplus revenues,” said Huff, R-Diamond Bar. “That debt load is nearly $9,000 for every single Californian.”

Deasy thanked Brown for “listening to our concerns about streamlining processes under the new local control funding formula.”

“His proposed changes should help mitigate the burdensome process for collecting alternative forms to verify income eligibility so that we can focus more attention on teaching and learning,” Deasy said.

Deasy said he wished the budget provided additional money for school districts to transition to the common core state standards “so that our students, teachers and parents are better prepared for this historic transition to quality standards.”

California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris applauded the governor for boosting career technical education funding by $50 million.

“After years of trimming career technical education programs because of budget cuts, this $50 million increase will translate into more skilled workers and economic growth,” stated Harris.

C. Duane Dauner, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association, complained that the revised budget  ”does not reverse looming retroactive Medi-Cal payment cuts to hospital-based skilled-nursing facilities.”

“The payment cuts to hospitals, along with those affecting physicians, dentists, pharmacists and other providers, may threaten access to care for millions of low-income and elderly patients,” Dauner said.

Last week, Brown reached an agreement in principle with the Legislature on the reserve fund, which still requires approval.

It would:

— require the state to bank large increases in capital gains revenues, which are the most volatile form of tax income;

— require supplemental payments to accelerate the payoff of the debts and liabilities;

— raise the dollar amount of  the rainy day fund to 10 percent of the general fund revenue;

— allows withdrawals to be made from the fund when needed during recessions, within prescribed limits; and

— creates a reserve account for education to avoid future funding cuts.

The budget increases funding for K-12 schools and community colleges, and provides more money to the University of California and California State University systems — as long as they don’t increase student tuition and fees.

Revenue growth triggered a 2 percent raise for state workers who belong to 14 of the 21 state employee unions, the Sacramento Bee reported.

California has about $355 billion in long-term liabilities, including $217.8 billion in unfunded pension costs and $64.6 billion in deferred maintenance, according to the budget released in January.

L.A. Council Committee Working on Permit Plan for Street Vendors

May 15, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Caridad Vazquez was among the dozens of street vendors who appeared before a Los Angeles City Council committee Tuesday in support of legalizing street vending in the city.

Accompanied by a translator, the Boyle Heights resident told the committee the city must allow vendors like her to obtain permits to sell their products on city sidewalks.  “I’m asking for your support council members, I’m supporting this fight so we can help our families” financially, she said in Spanish.

In November of last year, Councilmen Curren Price and Jose Huizar introduced a motion directing city officials to in 90 days report back on a possible system to allow vendors that sell food and non-food merchandise on city sidewalks to do so legally. The motion was referred to the  Economic Development and Public Works and Gang Reduction committees for review. On Tuesday, the Economic Development Committee held its first hearing and took public testimony on the issue.

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Street vendors and allies attended the L.A. City Council Committee to offer testimonies about street vending and asked councilmembers for their support. (EGP photo by Ana Gonzalez)

Vendors and their allies from across the city testified that the current ban on sidewalk vending does not work. Despite it being illegal, street vendors selling hot dogs, tacos and other foods are commonly seen around the city. They do it out of financial necessity, speakers said, but since 2012 about 2,000 street vendors have been arrested for engaging in those activities the committee was told.

Vazquez told EGP she has been making a living as a street vendor for about 10 years. She said she is tired of police harassing and threatening vendors like her all the time.Vasquez said the majority of street vendors are willing to pay for a permit if it allows them to work legally. “I pay taxes, even though I don’t have a permit,” she added.

Lea este artículo en Español: Comité del Concilio de L.A. Trabaja en un Plan para Legalizar las Ventas Ambulantes

Public Counsel Attorney Dough Smith’s organization works with communities hit hard by the economic recession that are facing disinvestment and a lack financial opportunities.

“Street vending represents a really good opportunity to build up small businesses and provide for their families and participate in the economy,” he told EGP.

While the majority of speakers spoke in favor of the city adopting a permitting process for street vendors, a few speakers said they are concerned approval will hurt the city’s brick-and-mortar businesses that already pay taxes and were also hurt in the economic downturn. They said street vendors take away business and in the case of Hollywood, drives tourists away from the city’s iconic tourist area.

No decision on a policy was made at the meeting but the committee did vote to create a working group to design a way for vendors to apply for permits and demonstrate that they are following health laws and other city regulations. The group was asked to deliver a report in 90 days.

Huizar told EGP the current system is broken and that the lack of regulations has created “chaos.”

“Vendors who just want to make a living are being chased by police officers,” he said. “Restaurants and business owners do not appreciate cheap competition from people that don’t pay taxes in front of their doors,” Huizar said. “We are trying to find that balance to allow street vending but at the same time protect businesses.”

Councilman Gil Cedillo said the committee needs to sit down with the authors of a report on a possible policy given to the committee that same day and discuss what can and can’t be done. He said he is concerned that the majority of street vendors are undocumented immigrants and if police detain them, they can be taken to jail and deported. It’s a “crisis,” he said, adding he does not want to see more families separated through deportation.

“We cannot criminalize people that are working,” Cedillo said. “But at the same time, we cannot put businesses that have made a financial investment at a disadvantage,” he told EGP, adding he is open to finding a resolution that works for everyone.

“To see this [many people] is very powerful,” Cedillo said.

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Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

City Council Rejects Monterey Park Dog Park Location

May 15, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Following more than an hour of passionate testimony from residents, Monterey Park’s city council decided not to move forward with plans to build a dog park at one of the city’s parks, citing a number of concerns for nearby residents.

The council chamber was filled with residents who spoke for or against a proposed off-leash dog park being considered for Garvey Ranch Park along Orange Avenue during a special meeting held last week.

Residents opposed to the proposed location clearly outnumbered those in favor.

“We’re not saying we’re against [a dog park], I think the location is just not suitable,” said Councilmember Mitchell Ing, himself a dog owner

Citing the impact to traffic, parking, noise, odor and sanitation, the proposed location – a vacant lot near the park’s tennis courts – was just too close for comfort for some residents.

“You can pick up the dog poop but you can’t pick up the piss,” said resident Keith Miller who was concerned urine could seep into the underground water pipes owned by the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District.

However, some residents pointed out that in addition to animal control patrols, dog owners tend to self-regulate to ensure everybody picks up after their pet.

“You think they [police] will waste their time to go down and give tickets for not picking up poo poo?” asked resident Paul Perez. “Come on let’s be realistic.”

Some residents stated they are willing to mitigate the problem by volunteering to clean the park, offsetting maintenance costs to the city.

Councilmember Teresa Real Sebastian is a dog owner and was the only member of the council to express support for the project. She said responsible dog owners should not be penalized for those who are irresponsible.

Mayor Pro Tem Hans Liang, who also owns a dog, argued that it would be difficult to guarantee that all dogs are properly socialized and vaccinated.

With no action by the council, the motion to approve the new park died.

City staff has been playing around with the idea of building a dog park since last year when the city approved a $3.2 million park master plan that proposed a dog park that would operate during daylight hours and have separate areas for smaller and larger dogs.

Initially, city staff proposed Elder Park but quickly withdrew the recommendation citing the locations proximity to homes and schools as a problem.

EGP previously reported a public hearing for the proposed site in October of last year attracted over 50 residents.

City Manager Paul Talbot said the city will continue to look for other vacant pockets of lands that would be appropriate for a dog park.

As for the vacant land at Garvey Ranch Park, Real Sebastian decided that her next park beautification would be tentatively planned for that location.

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Twitter @nancyreporting

nmartinez@egpnews.com

Forever 21 Begins Massive Solar Project In Lincoln Heights

May 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ceremoniously helped install the first solar panel late last week on what the city is heralding as the largest single-rooftop solar power system in Los Angeles County.

The planned 5.1-megawatt solar power system being installed on the rooftop of fashion retailer Forever 21’s headquarters in Lincoln Heights is the first to take advantage of two DWP solar incentive programs on one site.

The Feed-in Tariff (FiT) Program and the Solar Incentive Program provide monetary incentives to DWP customers who install their own solar panels and allow those customers to sell excess power back to the grid, according to DWP General Manager Marcie Edwards.

“We applaud Forever 21 for planning the largest solar rooftop system in the city and the third largest in the state,” Edwards said. “It’s a great example of how a business can use both of LADWP’s customer-focused, local solar programs to generate solar power for their own use as well as to benefit the entire city with clean renewable energy,” she said.

Garcetti also lauded Forever 21’s efforts and said the solar project moves the city one step closer towards the goal of generating 33 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

“We have got to cut our energy consumption and go green with the energy that we have,” Garcetti said. “This is over 1,000 homes that will get their power just for Forever 21 being wise about the future.”

Solar energy installation specialist PermaCity will install the system on Forever 21’s roof with expected completion by early fall. Once complete, PermaCity estimates the system will help keep nearly 13 million pounds of carbon dioxide out of the air each year — the equivalent of taking 1,200 cars off the road.

 

 

UCLA Chancellor Visits to ELAC

May 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

(Photo by Mario Villegas)

(Photo by Mario Villegas)

East Los Angeles College President Marvin Martinez, an alumnus of UCLA, right, presents UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, left, with a vintage poster from the Vincent Price art collection during his May 1 visit to the community college campus.

Block and administrators from UCLA’s Center for Community College Partnerships visited the school as part of an effort to increase the number of ELAC students who transfer to UCLA by developing and strengthening an academic partnership between the colleges.

The visit started with a tour of ELAC’s famous Vincent Price Art Museum.

Se Refuerza Asociación Entre Garfield, ELAC y CSULA para Mejoras de Educación

May 15, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

La semana pasada funcionarios de educación anunciaron una iniciativa que se enfoca en motivar a estudiantes del Este de Los Ángeles para que obtengan educación superior garantizándoles admisión a la universidad Cal State Los Ángeles.

“GO East L.A.: Un Camino para la Universidad y Éxito Profesional” es una sociedad entre la preparatoria Garfield, el Colegio Comunitario del Este de Los Ángeles (ELAC), y la universidad Cal State L.A.

José Huerta, presidente de la preparatoria Garfield muestra la firma del documento de  asociación con las entidades ELAC y CSULA para promover educación superior a estudiantes del Este de Los Ángeles. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

José Huerta, presidente de la preparatoria Garfield muestra la firma del documento de
asociación con las entidades ELAC y CSULA para promover educación superior a estudiantes del Este de Los Ángeles. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

El programa creado por la Miembro de la Junta Directiva del Distrito Escolar de Los Ángeles, Mónica García, el Presidente de ELAC Marvin Martínez y el Presidente de Cal State L.A. William A. Covino, ofrece a los estudiantes de Garfield y ELAC prioridad de admisión a Cal State L.A. si reúnen los requisitos necesarios.

Los creadores de la iniciativa dicen que su visión es desarrollar una “comunidad que sea un sistema educativo de la cuna a la carrera profesional” que apoye a los jóvenes del área desde el preescolar hasta la graduación de la universidad con las herramientas necesarias para tener éxito en cada nivel del sistema educativo. El objetivo es asegurar que los estudiantes que asisten a la preparatoria Garfield en el Este de Los Ángeles obtengan las habilidades necesarias para “contribuir a la vitalidad económica y de salud de la comunidad”, según un comunicado difundido por ELAC.

A través de GO East L.A., los estudiantes que asisten a la preparatoria Garfield recibirán apoyo para sus metas académicas después de graduarse de la preparatoria, si quieren asistir primero a ELAC o ir directamente a Cal State LA. Estudiantes que asisten ELAC también recibirán asistencia específica para ayudarles a transferirse a Cal State L.A.

Entre otras cosas, la iniciativa pide la recopilación de recursos privados y públicos para proporcionar más asesoramiento académico y de apoyo a los estudiantes de Garfield y ELAC para asegurarse de que están completando con éxito las clases que necesitan para asistir a Cal State L.A. Se animará a los estudiantes a tomar más clases de preparación universitaria y cursos que califiquen para créditos universitarios mientras estén en la preparatoria.

La preparatoria Garfield, que en algún momento fue una de las escuelas más sobre pobladas de LAUSD, actualmente matricula alrededor de 2.500 estudiantes y tuvo una tasa de graduación de 87,3% en el 2011-12 , según el Presidente de Garfield, José Huerta.

García, dijo que el objetivo de GO East L.A. es eliminar los obstáculos que enfrentan muchos estudiantes para que puedan graduarse en menos tiempo y acceder al mercado laboral con un título en sus manos. La asociación se compromete en ser ellos mismos “responsables” en cuanto al éxito de los estudiantes, dijeron los funcionarios.

“Vamos a empezar por conseguir que nuestros profesores y nuestros maestros hablen entre sí”, García le dijo a EGP. “Los consejeros de los campuses que hablen el uno al otro también”, agregó. “… La clase del 2014 de la preparatoria Garfield ya está conectada con ELAC y Cal State L.A.”, anunció.

Julia Soto, estudiante del 12 grado en Garfield, le dijo a EGP que la iniciativa es un gran recurso para ella porque planea obtener su título Asociado o entrar en un programa de enfermería y posteriormente conseguir una licenciatura en Ciencias . “Este programa [nos] anima a ir a ELAC y después transferirnos a Cal State L.A., con prioridad de inscripción”, dijo después de la conferencia de prensa que se llevó a cabo el 8 de mayo en Garfield.

Soto dijo que actualmente ella está tomando clases de la universidad durante los fines de semana para obtener más rápido su título universitario. “Gente de ELAC viene los sábados a darnos clases”, dijo. “Ellos nos motivan a continuar con nuestros estudios”.

Huerta le dijo a EGP que él esta “muy impresionado y honrado” de que los logros de Garfield estén siendo reconocidos.

Por ahora, la iniciativa se ofrece solo en Garfield, pero García dijo que espera que otras escuelas del Este como Esteban Torres y la Academia de Aprendizaje Solís se añadan en la próxima ronda.

Mientras que las tres instituciones educativas siempre han tenido una relación, García dijo que espera que este nuevo esfuerzo convierta la relación más fuerte con objetivos más claros. “Lo que queremos ver en el programa GO East L.A. es una mejor organización en torno a los programas, el apoyo y los resultados”, le dijo a EGP.

Las empresas locales también proporcionarán ayuda a los estudiantes necesitados. Entre los partidarios locales, Grifols Worldwide, un grupo mundial de la salud localizado junto a Cal State L.A., ha donado $50.000 para becas para estudiantes en el programa.

GO East L.A. también desarrollará programas orientados a ayudar a estudiantes a obtener un título universitario o certificados de carrera necesarios, así como edificar conocimiento sobre la universidad mediante el alcance a las escuelas secundarias y asociaciones con grupos comunitarios y los padres para promover la asistencia a la universidad con las habilidades necesarias.

GO East L.A. espera incluir escuelas intermedias del Este como Belvedere, Griffith y Stevenson, para acrecentar el esfuerzo.

García dijo que espera ver que los programas sean eventualmente expandidos a escuelas fuera del Este de Los Ángeles.

“Queremos ver un GO Lincoln Heights, GO Boyle Heights”, dijo. “Tenemos que ver a todos llegar a la meta.”

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Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

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