Opening Reception for New George Yepes Exhibit at Corazon de Los Angeles at the Olvera Street Marketplace

May 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“El Pistola y La Corazon” by George Yepes

June  1, 2013

5-9pm—Opening Reception for New George Yepes Exhibit at Corazon de Los Angeles at the Olvera Street Marketplace. Artist signing; original works including El Pistola y La Corazon, Fridas, Madonnas, and more. Light refreshments. Show runs through June 30. Corazon de Los Angeles is located at 634 N. Main St, LA 90012, or W-19A (upstairs) on Olvera Street side. For more information, visit Corazon de Los Angeles-Olvera-Street on Facebook, or call (213) 617-0227 or email

May 23, 2013 Issue

May 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Garcetti Victorious in Race for Mayor

May 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

After emerging victorious from a hard-fought and costly campaign, mayor-elect Eric Garcetti thanked voters Wednesday for propelling him into office and said he was prepared to take on the city’s major issues, which will include a looming budget deficit and a battle over employee pensions.

“We have our challenges before us as a city, big challenges,” he said.

Eric Garcetti addresses supporters at his election night party at the Hollywood Palladium. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

“But there’s no challenge in Los Angeles that cannot be met by the immense wellspring of talent and people and passion that’s here in Los Angeles. Those folks who believe in Los Angeles, the people who are the most diverse, committed, creative human beings ever assembled on the face of the Earth — together we will make this not just a big city, but a great city once again.”

With all precincts reporting, Garcetti had 54 percent of the vote, compared to 46 percent for City Controller Wendy Greuel.

Greuel called Garcetti about 2 a.m. Wednesday to concede the race, later congratulating her opponent for a hard-fought race at her Van Nuys campaign office Wednesday morning.

“After going toe-to-toe with him as political opponents for two years now … you really get to know a person,” she said.

Garcetti “cares deeply” about the city, she said, and “will work tirelessly to be the strong and innovative leader we need at this critical moment in our history.”

She touched on the historical significance of her bid for mayor, saying that while she failed to “break through the glass ceiling last night” she put enough of a “crack in it” that the “next woman candidate in my shoes will crash right through it.”

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called Garcetti “a true leader” that he trusted “to guide our city into its bright future.

“I know I am leaving Los Angeles in good hands,” he said in a statement.

Late Tuesday, while votes were still being tallied, Garcetti delivered what was clearly a victory speech, though he never used the word “victory.”

“Well, the results aren’t all in, but this is shaping up to be a great night,” Garcetti told supporters at the Hollywood Palladium. “So let me start by saying thank you. Thank you to the thousands of you who volunteered for this campaign and thank you to the voters of L.A. who tonight voted for strong independent leadership to lead this city forward.

“All of you out there watching on TV and up here have made this night possible,” he said. “We faced some powerful forces in this race. We didn’t have the most money … but we had something more important. We had a people-powered campaign and we had a commitment with that people power to let the voters of Los Angeles choose the next mayor, not any power brokers.”

Garcetti also had kind words for his opponent.

“I want to thank Wendy Greuel for her dedication to public service,” Garcetti said. “Wendy and I both love Los Angeles, and she has given her professional life to making this city a better place. And I know she will continue on that mission.”

Tony Zapata said Tuesday he knows Garcetti will do for the city what he did for the Hollywood area: “He brought jobs, cleaned up the neighborhood. He’s a leader.”

As mayor, Garcetti will face ballooning pension costs and a looming battle between city leaders and employee groups over proposed labor concessions included in Villaraigosa’s final budget.

But those issues were not enough to get voters to the polls Tuesday.

Voter turnout was 19.2 percent, according to figures from the City Clerk’s Office, despite several debates, numerous campaign stops and record spending. More than $30 million was spent on mailers and television, radio and other ads.

The “abysmal” turnout prompted at least one lawmaker on Wednesday to call for a change in the city’s election cycle.

Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) wants city elections to be aligned with state and presidential election, which traditionally have much higher voter turnouts.

He said the “relentless campaigning” and “record spending by candidates and ballot campaigns” was not enough to get people to vote.

If the initial report of a 19 percent turnout holds up, it will be one of the lowest on record. That’s far below the 54 percent of area residents who voted in the most recent Presidential election.

“Aligning these races would help increase turnout in elections that hit closest to home and save taxpayers millions of dollars,” said de León.

For 35 Years, Conference Has Empowered Young Latinas

May 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

While many things have changed during the 35 years that the Montebello-based Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF) has been putting on its National Latina Conference, including the conference name, one thing has remained unchanged: the program’s mission to inspire and empower Latinas to advance themselves in higher education and the workforce.

About 2,000 high school and college-age women attended the National Latina Conference in Montebello, where exhibitors included, the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles, Altamed and Northrop Gruman among others. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

That mission was in full display last week when about 2,000 high school- and college-age women attended the sold out conference held May 17 at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello.

After 35 years, the National Hispanic Women’s Conference was changed to the National Latina Conference, a significant change that reflects current times, MAOF President Martin Castro told EGP.

The conference was the vision of MAOF founder Dionicio Morales who in the late 1970’s thought it would be a good way to inspire young women and bolster the number of professional Hispanic women in the workforce.

“The idea was to recruit high school and college Latinas—our youth—to the day-long conference where they would … attend workshops designed to get them to think about their future and opportunities to help them stay in school,” Martin told EGP. Empowered with information, they could then choose to “advance their education or attend a vocational program so that they can … succeed in life,” Martin said.

“…What better way to motivate young Latinas than to honor Latinas who are at the top of their profession?” he said.

Workshop topics have changed over the years to reflect young women’s changing needs and interests, however the annual women of the year awards have remained an integral part of the program. So has the fashion show, though scaled back, which is seen as a way to expose young women to professional attire appropriate for the workplace.

Workshops this year included information on how to achieve health and wellness goals, how life expectancy and aging will affect the Latino community, and career opportunities in engineering, television, sports and other fields. Attendees also learned about some of their legal rights, dressing for success and how to play golf during a clinic put on by Latina golfers.

One of the more popular workshops included current ABC7 television personalities who discussed what it takes to survive in the television industry.

Pico Rivera native Alysha Del Valle shared her story with the young women who were eager to hear about her job as a television traffic reporter; they were surprised to learn her workday starts at 2 a.m.

Del Valle said her parents told her to go to college, but since no one else in her family had ever attended she had to figure out on her own how to get there and pay for it once admitted. She said even though she was a young single mother, she continued to pursue her life-long dream by first attending Rio Hondo College then USC on a scholarship after “working her butt off.”

“I had several people, including my eighth grade Algebra teacher tell me I would never go to college, I would never be on TV. And I had another person while I was in college tell me that I couldn’t start in L.A., I had to go somewhere smaller and work my way up,” she said. “But I did not want to leave my family and I defied both of them and now I have my dream job with ABC7,” Del Valle told the young women.

ABC7 Vice President of Diversity and Community Relations Diana Medina, Director of Public Affairs Teresa Samaniego, Programming Assistant Director Lisa Gonzalez and Public Affairs Administrator Julie Farias also shared their stories. Most of the panelists identified themselves as first-generation Americans and college graduates.

One of the panelists admitted her education and career took a detour because she “partied a little bit,” but she noted she now has two degrees. “If you want to succeed, it’s not going to be easy but you will,” she said, highlighting the importance of a positive attitude.

Medina said attending college was not a part of her vocabulary growing up in Pacoima, but after “I kissed my prince and he turned into a frog,” she was faced with the reality of being a single mother who had to become the breadwinner. She went to night school after working all day.

“It was very difficult, and I stress that because you do have choices,” Medina said. “And every choice we make has some kind of result or consequence… So when you decide about your future, education is such an equalizer. The more education you have, the more possibilities you have, the fewer obstacles you will have, the more choices you will have. Without an education, your choices become very diminished,” Medina said.

Being a good wife and mother are also important and  “the best thing you can do for your family is to be self-sufficient because if something happens to your husband, or something happens to your home, you may have to be the one who has to care for your children, you have to feed them and clothe them, and without an education, how would you do that?”

All the panelists underscored the importance of getting an education, whether at a college or vocational school. They discussed the value of completing internships, making professional contacts and prioritizing career goals over romantic relationships.

This year’s conference fashion show was co-sponsored by Mexican General Consulate David Figueroa and included regional dresses from Mexico.

“Without a doubt, the hard work of MAOF has contributed in a significant way to the empowerment and preparation of young Latinas,” Mexican Consul General David Figueroa Ortega said in a written statement.

MAOF is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and today provides services to low-income families across L.A. and Kern Counties, Nevada and New Mexico.

The Latina conference is one of MAOF’s legacy programs and has inspired similar conferences across the country, said Castro.

He acknowledged that the number of Latinas college graduates and professionals is higher then when they first started, but said the drop-out rate among Latinas is still too high so the conference is as needed and relevant as it was three decades ago.

He said if they can change the lives of 15 of the more than 900 local women who attend, “then it’s well worth it.”

The five women honored this year come from diverse fields and backgrounds, and received awards in one of five categories:

International – philanthropist Lorena Ochoa, who was ranked the number one female golfer at the height of her career; Education – Dr. Mildred Garcia, president of Cal State Fullerton; STEM -award-winning engineer and Northrop Grumman employee Ana Luisa Ramirez; Art -internationally acclaimed artist Yolanda Gonzalez, and in the Community category, the award went to Corinne Sanchez, president and CEO of nonprofit El Proyecto del Barrio, Inc.

Accepting her award, Sanchez said she was repeatedly told not to go to law school, that she wouldn’t pass the Bar exam and that she would be miserable practicing law; goals she did achieve and does not regret.

“I believe every person must persevere, never give up. Don’t let anyone stop you,” Sanchez said.

Sisters Leonela and Margarita Ramirez, 17 and 19 respectively, were encouraged to attend the conference by their teacher at the Huntington Park-Bell Community Adult School.

Leonela said growing up she had several teachers tell her and her peers they would never accomplish anything, except maybe joining a gang. The conference has exposed her to Latinas who have succeeded.

“There is a lot to take in, a lot of opportunities to look up,” Margarita said. “They push you to better yourself, not just school but also career… [We] can actually be somebody, not just housewives.”

**Editor’s Note: This story was updated on May 30, 2013  to correct statements attributed to a different ABC7 panelist.

Cedillo Wins Seat on L.A. Council

May 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The political road between Sacramento and Los Angeles City Hall was well-traveled Wednesday, with former assemblyman Gil Cedillo claiming the city council seat being vacated by termed-out Councilman Ed P. Reyes.

Cedillo earned 52.4 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s runoff battle with Jose Gardea, Reyes’ chief of staff, getting 47.5 percent of the vote. The district represents an area that includes northeast Los Angeles, Chinatown, Pico Union and MacArthur Park.

Gil Cedillo walks into a jubilant room of supporters at his Highland Park campaign headquarters on Tuesday evening. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Cedillo came close to winning the seat outright during the primary in March, winning 49.3 percent of the vote to Gardea’s 43.5 percent, with fewer than 1,000 separating the candidates.

Despite agreeing on many issues, the race between Gardea and Cedillo had become acrimonious as both candidates tried to identify their opponent as just another political insider, with special interest connections.

Both candidates touted their records “of getting things done,” Gardea at the local level and Cedillo as a state legislator.

Council District 1 is the smallest district in area, but is the most densely populated and has some of the city’s most densely populated neighborhoods and oldest infrastructure.

Cedillo, whose has spent his political career in Sacramento dealing with statewide issues, says he will be able to call on his connections in the State Capitol and Washington D.C. to bring much needed resources to the district.

Immigration Reform Bill Heads to Senate Floor

May 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13 to 5 Tuesday evening to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill out of committee. The bill is expected to head to the Senate floor in early June. Weeks of heated debate are expected to take place before a vote by the full Senate.

The Judiciary Committee considered more than 300 amendments to the bill, defeating dozens of amendments that would have made the pathway to legalization more difficult. But efforts to gut one of the core issues important to immigration rights activists, but a detailed, and some would say arduous 13-year path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people in the country with out legal status was left intact.

One of the most controversial amendments would have given gay and lesbian couples equal treatment under immigration law. Sen. Patrick Leahy withheld that amendment “with a heavy heart” on Tuesday, after Democrats and Republicans voiced concern that it could “kill the bill.”

EQCA’s Executive Director John O’Connor said his group is “appalled” by the Senate’s action.

“California is home to more LGBT binational couples — 7,100 — than any other state in the nation and today those couples and their families were abandoned. There’s nothing more important to us than family and equality and today by not allowing a vote, the Committee failed both.”

Among the amendments that passed are: a deal struck between Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, on visas for high-skilled workers to address the concerns of tech companies; an amendment to keep families together; and several amendments to strengthen border enforcement.

One of these is a pilot project that would track immigrants leaving the U.S. A week after Senators rejected an amendment that would have required a biometric system for non-U.S. citizens, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday approved a narrower amendment sponsored by Sen. Hatch that would require non-citizens to submit fingerprints when they leave the country. The pilot project would be launched at the 10 busiest U.S. airports within two years of the bill’s passage.

After six years, the system would be expanded to 30 airports. Non-citizens are already required to submit fingerprints when entering the country.

Montebello Veterans Memorial Gets Some TLC

May 23, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Plans to renovate a veterans memorial at a Montebello park are underway, but it’s unlikely that many of the hoped for improvements will be completed in time for the city’s Memorial Day Observance on Monday.

The memorial at Montebello City Park was covered with graffiti, mismatched paint and shrubs, and in 2011 thieves stole the sites’ copper plaques commemorating the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.

The Veteran Memorial located at Montebello City Park was vandalized in 2011. (Courtesy of Vivian Romero)

Residents helped clean up the area during a park beautification day last Saturday, but it’s unclear if replacement plaques, for which the city council has approved funding, will be installed in time for Monday’s ceremony.

Montebello Culture and Recreation Commissioners Vivian Romero and John Paul Garcia are among those spearheading the effort to give the veterans’ memorial a makeover. “Part of [beautification day] was to focus on the veteran’s memorial, especially with the holiday that’s coming up,” Garcia told EGP. “We wanted to clean up the area and if possible get the plaques replaced.”

Romero told EGP that replacing the stolen plaques had been on the city’s Culture and Recreation Commission’s agenda for months, but budget constraints had kept the city from approving funds needed to move ahead.

The granite memorial has been tagged, etched and spray-painted from the flagpole to the torch that sits on the memorial wall. Garcia said residents and veterans repeatedly approach him to complain about the memorial’s unkempt condition and the plaques missing for two years.

Romero said she too had noticed how disheveled the site was and how “its gotten progressively worse.”

Montebello Planning and Community Director Michael Huntley said it would cost the city about $6,000 to replace the plaques that were likely stolen for their copper content.

“This is people looking for ways to make money because the economy has been bad,” he said. “They stole those for a couple of dollars and that’s sad,” Huntley said, referring to the fact that items like these are usually sold for scrap metal with thieves only getting a few cents on the dollar of the actual value.

Huntley told EGP that a plan is “currently in motion” to try to get new plaques installed in time for the ceremony, but he would not say if the work will be completed in time.

In preparation for the park beatification day on May 18, Romero and Garcia approached several local businesses to ask for donations. This led them to the Home Depot in Commerce where they were told that a company grant aimed at veteran-related projects could help fund renovation of the veteran’s memorial.

The city has been approved for the grant but it’s not enough to cover the entire cost of the project that Home Depot estimates is between $10,000 and $15,000. Romero said they decided to push back their Memorial Day deadline to give Home Depot more time to try to secure the rest of the funding.

A walk through the area with Home Depot officials had city officials pointing out the many areas in need of repair, including the sidewalks, pavers, planters, benches and vegetation that have not been renovated since 1987, Garcia told EGP. “The truth is it’s not aesthetically pleasing, it’s a disgrace,” said Romero. “When you look at that part of the park it should be beautiful, it’s supposed to honor people in the military who served for our freedom.”

Garcia said they want the entire memorial to be renovated; “From where it starts, where there is a tree in the center of the park to the front on Whittier Boulevard.”

Among other things, city officials hope funds raised will cover the cost of re-painting the entire memorial wall where the wrong color paint was used to cover some of the tagging.

Volunteers got the ball rolling during last Saturday’s beautification day with some good old fashion cleaning and the planting of dozens of 20-foot trees and plants donated by a local wholesale tree distribution company.

Their efforts will have a “visual impact on our veterans who will [now] be proud to have the memorial as a tribute to them,” Romero said. “It will also send a message to those vandals that tag stuff up, that people do care about the way our community looks.”

Special Election To Determine Future of Monterey Park Fire Department

May 23, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Voters in Monterey Park will have to decide if they want to turn over the city’s fire services to the Los Angeles County Fire Dept. during a special election scheduled for July 2.

The city has been examining the practicality of such a change for years, often to the ire of local residents, especially the elderly who have said they fear such a change would result in slower response times.

If approved, Measure FF would amend the city’s Municipal Code and direct the city council to negotiate a contract that would transfer city-run fire services to the county.

The debate over the move has been going on in some form or another since 1989, according to documents Monterey Park staff submitted to the city council. Initially it was the county that proposed a contract with the city for fire services. That proposal was never approved.

Facing tighter budgets and escalating personnel costs, city officials in 2010 asked the county to submit a proposal detailing what it would cost to provide fire and paramedic services to Monterey Park. A 2011 feasibility study on the possible move was followed up with an independent analysis conducted by Emergency Services Consulting International (ECSI). A Fire Citizen Committee was formed in 2012 to review the findings, which were presented to the council last month. The city council approved the holding of a special election to bring the transfer issue to the voters.

Vote by mail ballots will be available starting June 3, but requests must be received by June 25. Eligible voters not already registered must do so by June 17 to vote in the special election.

Election materials will be mailed out next month.

For more information, call the city’s clerk’s office at (626) 307-1359.

Three Charged in East LA Bank Robbery

May 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Three men were in custody Monday in the Sept. 5, 2012, robbery of a Bank of America in East Los Angeles that involved the supposed kidnapping of an assistant branch manager, who authorities said was a girlfriend of one suspect.

Arrested last Friday were Reyes “Ray” Vega, 34, who was found in Atlanta; Richard Menchaca, 36, arrested in Fontana, and Bryan Perez, 27, arrested in Huntington Park, authorities said.

Vega was arrested the day after the robbery and released on $100,000 bail.

The assistant branch manager — police said her initials were A.B. but declined to name her — was a girlfriend of Vega’s.

The men were named in an April 25 grand jury indictment charging them with bank robbery, police said. All three were expected to appear in federal court Monday, Vega in Atlanta and the other two in Los Angeles.

The indictment alleges that Vega planned to rob the bank where his girlfriend worked.

According to the indictment, Menchaca and Perez cased the bank and surrounding area before the robbery, and Vega arranged for the vehicles to be used during the robbery, police said.

“The indictment further alleges that on the morning of the robbery and during it, Vega arranged for (his girlfriend) to wear a device resembling an explosive on her person so that she would appear to be a hostage,” police said in a statement.

Following the crime, the woman had told authorities that two masked men had abducted her from in front of her Huntington Park residence and told her that a bomb had been strapped to her body.

She said they told her to throw money from a back door of the bank at 941 S. Atlantic Blvd., which she did. The suspects escaped with $565,500, according to KCAL9. Investigators later determined that no explosives had been involved in the crime.

It was unclear if the woman would be arrested.

The stolen money remains missing. Investigators believe others may have been involved and know where the stolen money is.

Anyone with more information about the robbery was urged to call (888) 226-8443. The bank has offered a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of other suspects responsible for the crime.

2013 Memorial Day Observances

May 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

(EGP 2011 Photo Archive)

Saturday, May 25

9am—Day of Service at Veterans Memorial Square in Highland Park. American Legion Post #206 will clean up the Veterans Memorial Square at the intersection of York Boulevard and North Figueroa Street. Post  #206 will host its annual Memorial Day service on Monday, May 27 at 11 a.m. at the American Legion Hall, 227 N. Avenue 55. For more information, contact Highland Park’s American Legion at (323) 254-5646.

10am—El Sereno Memorial Day Tribute Honoring Veterans at the Dr. Donald Newman Flag Pole. The Office of Councilmember Jose Huizar will host an inspiring tribute to our men and women of the Military Services and fallen heroes. All are welcomed to attend. Flag Pole is located at intersection of Huntington Drive & Eastern Avenue. For more information contact Julio Torres at (323) 226-1646.

11am—Honor & Remember All Heroes at the Cypress Park Veterans Memorial. A formal ceremony will take place at the memorial, corner of Cypress Avenue and Pepper Street. Hosted by Councilman Ed Reyes, Greater Cypress park Neighborhood Council & Cypress Park Veterans Committee. For more information, call (323) 226-1682.

3pm—Kick Off of Eagle Rock Eagles Memorial 3-Day Event to benefit disabled veterans and welcome home all Vietnam veterans. Hosted by the Glendale-Eagle Rock Fraternal Order of Eagles at the Rock Aerie, located at 1596 Yosemite Dr. Event includes opening of Vietnam War Photo Gallery Sat. at 3pm, & followed by dinner at 6:30pm ($20 donation); Open House Sunday at 1pm; and a Memorial Day champagne breakfast from 7:30-11:30 a.m. for $7. A Memorial Day ceremony will follow at Noon. The Vietnam War Photo Gallery will be open from 7:30am-5:30pm. For information, call (323) 257-8869.

Memorial Day, Monday May 27

10am—Closing Ceremony 66th Annual Memorial Day Observance & 24-hour Vigil at Cinco Puntos in East Los Angeles. Vigil starts at 10am on Sunday May 26. Keynote speaker is Major General Megan P. Tatu. Location: Mexican-American All Wars Memorial, located at the intersection of Lorena, Indiana, and Cesar Chavez in East LA. For more information call Tony Zapata (323) 261-8533.

10am &1pm—A Day to Remember: Forest Lawn 2013 Memorial Day Observances at 10am in Hollywood Hills and at 1pm in Glendale. Both programs will include keynote addresses, color guards, patriotic music, wreathe laying, rifle salute, free souvenirs and more. Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills is located at 6300 Forest Lawn Dr. LA 90068; Glendale location is at 1712 S. Glendale Ave., 90630. For more information, call 800-204-3131 or go to

10am— Memorial Day Observance at Marsh Park located at 2960 Marsh St., Elysian Valley. The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority Invites you to the Grand Opening of  The Los Angeles River Pilot Recreation Zone. Speakers include Senator Kevin de Leon, Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, and Los Angeles Councilmember Ed P. Reyes. Rangers and signs will direct you to parking and event. For more information about the Los Angeles River Pilot Recreation Zone visit

10am—Monterey Park’s Annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the Veterans and War Monuments in front of City Hall. The ceremony, hosted by the American Legion Post #397, will feature speeches, patriotic music, and military displays. City Hall is located at 320 W. Newmark Ave. For more information, call (626) 571-9211 or (626)307-1388.

11am—Montebello’s Memorial Day Service at Montebello City Park. The event will feature the presentation and posting of the colors by the American Legion Post #272. Names will be read off the city’s veteran memorial and a Vietnam veteran will give a speech. Montebello City Park is located at 1300 W. Whittier Blvd. For more information, call (323) 480-8000 ext 540.

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