500 DUI Arrests In Los Angeles County Over Memorial Day Weekend

May 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

529 people were arrested in Los Angeles County for driving under the influence between 12:01 a.m. on Friday and midnight on Sunday, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

During a slightly different time period in Orange County, there were 35 DUI arrests, according to the California Highway Patrol.

1,133 people in California were arrested for DUI during the same period, according to the California Highway Patrol, which reports 15 fatalities in the state.

The arrests in Los Angeles County were made as part of the “Avoid the 100 Los Angeles County DUI Campaign,” under which 100 law enforcement agencies stepped up DUI enforcement efforts.

Some agencies have yet to report DUI arrests, according to the department.

Editorial Cartoon

May 30, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Exide’s Not So Temporary Permit Warrants An Investigation

May 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

For 30 years, residents and workers in Vernon, Commerce, Maywood, Huntington Park, Boyle Heights and unincorporated East Los Angeles have been forced to live with contamination from a car battery recycling plant now owned by Exide.

And for 30 years Exide has been operating under a temporary permit, which state, local and county authorities apparently had no ability, or wherewithal to fully finalize or ensure that the public was not being harmed by the company’s operations.

Since when is 30 years “temporary?”

The County Health Department closes down restaurants and other businesses every day of the week when there is a concern that the public’s health could be at risk. It closes businesses down for issues that some might consider minor, especially in light of the decades long release of cancer-causing pollutants that Exide is now charged with emitting in our air and ground soil.

The AQMD is no stranger to issuing orders to close or to fining businesses found to be contaminating our air, so why has it taken so long for action to be taken against Exide’s operations in Vernon?

It isn’t because Exide has been operating under the radar all these years. Exide was cited for contaminating the environment a number of times in 2007, 2008, 2009 and yet they were not ordered to close down.

Was there something special about Exide that allowed them to continue poisoning the environment, their workers and area residents with arsenic, lead and who knows what else for so many years?

Could it be that this was just another case of government agencies refusing to cross into another agency’s jurisdiction even though they were aware of the potentially dangerous violations taking place? Or could it be that the communities most impacted are predominately low-income and “unlikely” to make much of a fuss or understand the consequences of their exposure?

The state agencies involved in the permitting and oversight of Exide are sure to bristle at allegations that they were lax in the performance of their jobs. They will say that there was not enough evidence of wrongdoing, or regulations did not allow tougher action, or they were working with Exide to come up with solutions, or say that ultimately the system worked and Exide was shut down.

While there could be merit in some of their reasoning, it should be clear that in the case of Exide, for 30 years the system has not worked to protect the public’s health and wellbeing.

We congratulate Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar for pursuing the matter so forcefully, and agree with him that an investigation is warranted in this case. We urge state legislators to join in his call for a full inquiry into this debacle.

Today marks the start of a series of public meetings in communities believed to be the most impacted by Exide’s toxic emissions, we hope they do not prove to be little more than residents being told how to avoid the contamination.

We expect the State Department of Toxic Substances, AQMD and everyone else having jurisdiction in the matter to keep Exide closed until all the public can be guaranteed that all the sources of contamination have been fixed and remediated, if that’s even possible.

AB 880 Will Hurt California Businesses

May 30, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

At the Latin Business Association, we recognize the importance of a healthy workforce, which is why we support the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). When fully implemented, the law is expected to expand access to health coverage to millions of Californians, many of whom are Latino. Currently, nearly 60 percent of California’s uninsured population is of Hispanic descent. As we track the implementation and impact of health care reform on Latino-owned businesses, new legislation AB 880 (Gomez) raises concerns for our community.

As businesses are planning for the ACA’s implementation, our state leaders should be supporting them – not making an already daunting task even harder. Unfortunately, AB 880 further complicates our plans to provide care for our workforce by adding confusing requirements and hefty fines.

Under the ACA, all businesses with more than 50 employees will be required to offer health care coverage to full-time workers. This will be a massive undertaking, and its impact on the Latino business community – still struggling to recover from the Great Recession – remains to be seen.

AB 880 would require businesses to pay the state an additional fine – up to three to six times the cost of the federal fine — for each employee who chooses to enroll in the state’s Medi-Cal program. The penalty is estimated to cost as much as $15,000 per person, and it would apply for every employee working only more than eight hours a week.

There are more than 800,000 Latino-owned businesses in California, providing quality jobs and benefits to thousands of people across the state. As California’s Latino population continues to grow — by 2020, 40 percent of the state will be of Hispanic descent — the Latino business community will play a key role in our state’s economic recovery and prosperity. In fact, Latino-owned businesses are growing at a much faster pace than other businesses. Instead of stifling this much-needed growth, we should support and encourage it.

The fines created by AB 880 will not actually provide health coverage to anyone; they will simply add another burden to businesses already struggling to meet the requirements of the ACA. Those impacted may be forced to leave the state or, worse yet, close their doors.

And the law won’t just affect businesses; consumers and employees may be impacted as well. Some businesses may be forced to reduce their workforce because of the costs of the fines. Part-time work may disappear completely as companies will fearful of severe fines. By severely fining businesses, AB 880 also discourages them from hiring disadvantaged, hard-to-employ, and displaced individuals. This group includes many Latinos, whose unemployment rate is still hovering around 10 percent. In other words, this legislation will hurt the exact individuals it was intended to help.

As the voice of more than 800,000 Latino-owned businesses, we know that smart business owners want to retain their employees and keep their workforce happy. We also know that job growth is essential to California’s prosperity and health. AB 880 will not expand access to health care; instead, it will create confusion and penalties based on fear of what employers may or may not do. Instead of pushing legislation that harms California’s businesses and workers, our state leaders should partner with businesses to build on California’s emergence from the Great Recession, while developing healthier, stronger communities.

Ruben Guerra is Chairman of the Board & CEO President of the Latin Business Association.

Open Letter to CA Attorney General on Two-Year Anniversary of Mortgage Fraud Strike Force

May 30, 2013 by · 3 Comments 

Dear Attorney General Kamala Harris,

Your state’s homeowners, who know first-hand the vast injustice of the mortgage/foreclosure crisis, are here today, the two-year anniversary of your Mortgage Fraud Strike Force, to demand that the Strike Force live up to its name and prosecute and bring to trial the big banks for their mortgage crimes.

Your office took close to $90 million of the $18 billion that came to CA from the 49-state mortgage settlement — five times the minuscule $18.4 million that reportedly went to homeowners. Yet we see zero important prosecutions of bankers at the helm of creating this crisis of mortgage fraud — a crisis of fraud you yourself said is directly linked to our state’s budget woes. We do not understand why the crimes behind the tanking of our entire state’s economy, the consequences of which have devastated entire neighborhoods and created extreme hardship for millions of Californians, are not important enough to prosecute and bring to trial.

You have just brought suit against JPMorgan Chase for fraudulent and unlawful debt-collection practices against credit card borrowers, but you know as we know this is a tiny tip of the iceberg. Chase and other big banks do identical unlawful debt-collection practices when collecting on the debt of a mortgage/deed of trust by foreclosing. Robosigning is at the heart of the credit card suit. Robosigning of fraudulent documents is at the heart of virtually all foreclosure cases in all courts.

Foreclosure mills have recreated deeds and mortgage documents out of thin air and used them to steal people’s homes. The San Francisco Assessor Recorder’s audit proved that 99% of foreclosures had questionable documents and 84% had clear violations of law. You have a letter from Los Angeles County Recorder Dean Logan saying he believes the illegal activities described in that audit are systemic and common throughout California, including Los Angeles County. That letter was delivered to you March 9, 2012, over a year ago. You received on your desk last month 18 cases from Home Owners for Justice of criminal acts committed by Recontrust Company of forged, altered and fraudulent documents proven to have been recorded into county records in violation of the Homeowners Bill of Rights. Where are the indictments?

Whatever your reasons are that no prosecutions have gone forward against the big banks for mortgage fraud, we are here today to say that those reasons are not good enough. Credit card debt-collection fraud did not tank our state’s economy. We call on you to within six months bring identical prosecutions against the big banks for the identical practices in mortgage and foreclosure crimes as you are prosecuting for credit card crimes. We demand you prosecute the foreclosure mills and third party debt collectors who are doing much of the dirty work for the banks.

We also expect you to issue a public call to judges to regard allegations of robosigning as a serious cause of action. We have seen judges repeatedly dismiss or ignore these egregious crimes in court. As chief law enforcement officer in the state, we insist you communicate that this dismissive bias ends today.

Investigations have also shown that the $18 billion settlement did not go into principle reductions or compensation for damages, as you have claimed. It was a bait and switch — the funds have been siphoned into CA’s general fund to blunt the hemorrhaging budget. We call on you to publicly address this giant misappropriation of funds.

Finally, we are here to point out the obvious. As Senator Elizabeth Warren said, when banks can break the law and take in billions and billions of profits, then turn around and settle using tiny sums of money out of those profits, they don’t have much incentive to follow the law. Trials give us days and days of testimony when bank employees are grilled to find out exactly what they’ve been up to. That information needs to be public record. The Homeowners Bill of Rights is not enough. We ask you what Sen. Warren asked regulators: how tough are you?”

Sincerely,

Homeowners of California

Occupy Fights Foreclosure


Remembering the Fallen

May 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A memorial attendee takes in the somber moment as echo taps is played. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

The 66th Annual Memorial Day Observance and 24-hour Memorial Day Vigil took place on Monday at Cinco Puntos, where dozens of local veterans, their families and residents gathered to remember the ultimate sacrifice paid my service members. The event was presented by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4696. Local dignitaries present included State Assembly Speaker John Perez, Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti, and Councilmember José Huizar. Major General Megan Tatu, U.S. Army Reserves, was the keynote speaker.

Boyle Heights Groups Receive Grant to Move Street Vendor Project Forward

May 30, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

An effort to legalize street vending in the city of Los Angeles has earned some big financial support, it was announced Tuesday.

The Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN) and the East LA Community Corporation (ELACC) were together awarded a $100,000 grant from Goldhirsh Foundation LA2050 to implement the project to recognize street vendors as legal businesses in L.A., according to ELACC.

Only 10 proposals were selected from 279 submissions to receive the $100,000 grant. LURN and ELACC’s grant was in the foundation’s income and employment grant category. The competition process included participation by “voters” who selected their preferred economic development and social justice projects.

“Street vendors are hard-working entrepreneurs that are part of the social and cultural fabric in many of our low-income communities where healthy food options and good jobs often are rare,” said Rudy Espinoza in a written statement. “Supporting street vendors is an effective way to foster small business independence, expand food choices and support economic growth through new income for the City from licensing and fees.”

The organizations’ vision includes street vendors using high-tech technology, fruit vendors as personal trainers, and collaborations between sidewalk vendors and brick-and-mortar establishments.

“Imagine tamale makers with Ipads, their fingers on the community’s pulse, tweeting freely about their authentic, gourmet, safe, organic food. And imagine fruit vendors serving as personal trainers, tracking their “clients” nutrition and making sure they get their “5-a-day.” Welcome to Los Angeles in the year 2050 when local street vendors are viewed as the street and sidewalk entrepreneurs that they are. And when these entrepreneurs meet regularly with local established business owners to share trade secrets and grow their clientele, one supporting the other. Sound farfetched? Not when you see the group of futurists working to make this all happen,” the press release states.

ELACC president Maria Cabildo says they are working to build partnerships with small businesses that offer complementary services or products, much like cars are integrated in major retail center corridors. “Vendors gain a powerful ally in exchange for helping to revive and adorn empty LA sidewalks in front of those businesses,” she said.

LURN also has a start-up funding component to the street vendor initiative that allows people to invest in a street vendor in exchange “for a minority ‘equity’ stake in their business.” LURN will assist the street vendor who will have the opportunity to buy back the shares and own his business outright. The venture capital fund is expected to begin on Jan. 1, 2014, while ELACC will begin to build relationships with small businesses and vendors this year.

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 info@corazonla.com.

Community Calendar: May 30, 2013- June 5, 2013

May 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Today, Thur. May 30

6:30pm— Public Meeting on Future of Van de Kamps Campus. Options studied for the site’s interim use will be reviewed. Location: Van de Kamp Campus-Fletcher Dr. & San Fernando Rd., LA 90065 in the Old Bakery Building Multi-Purpose room on second floor. View the Van de Kamps EIR at http://www.laccd.edu/Pages/VDK-EI

9am-12 Noon—Health Justice for Eastside Students Conversation at Esteban E. Torres High School hosted by InnerCity Struggle. Learn about the impact school-based clinics and other community school strategies have on students’ academic success. The school is located at 4211 Dozier St., LA 90063. Space is limited, to RSVP email Adrian Escobar at adrian@innercitystruggle.org or call (323) 780-7605 x128.

5:30pm— El Sereno Middle School End of Year Spring Concert showcasing their outstanding Concert Band, Jazz Band, Drumline, String Orchestra and Mariachi. The school is located at 2839 N Eastern Ave., LA 90032.

Friday, May 31

5pm—Contestant Application Deadline for the 2013 Miss Bell Gardens Pageant. Pageant is open to Bell Gardens residents between the ages of 16-22. Visit www.bgrecreation.org/missbg to apply or for more information, or contact the recreation department at (562) 806-7650.

5pm—Contestant Application Deadline for the 2013 Miss Monterey Park Pageant on June 28, 2013 at the Ocean Star Restaurant 145 N. Atlantic Blvd., Suite 201. Applicant must be a Monterey Park resident between 18 & 28 years old. $50 application fee. Crowned winner & 1st -3rd place princess will receive scholarship. For more information, e-mail Elizabeth at the Monterey Park Chamber at lizyang8@gmail.com or call (626) 570-9429.

Saturday, June 1

9am-3pm—Too Toxic to Trash: Free LA County Hazardous & E-Waste Roundup at the El Monte Airport. Safely discard household hazardous waste such as antifreeze, unused pharmaceuticals, car batteries, used motor oil, paint, pesticides, home-generated sharps waste such as hypodermic needles, pen needles, syringes, lancets, and intravenous needles, universal waste including household batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, and electronic waste (e-waste) such as TVs and monitors, computers, VCRs, stereos, and cell phones. The El Monte Airport is located at 4233 N. Santa Anita Ave., El Monte. For more information, call County of LA Dept. of Public Works at 1(888) CLEAN LA or go to www.888CleanLA.com. Contact LA County Sanitation Districts at 1 (800) 238-0172 or www.lacsd.org.

9am-2:30pm—‘Discover Recycling’ Open House at the LA City Sanitation Dept. North Central District Yard: 452 N. San Fernando Rd., LA 90031. Learn about the city’s recycling efforts and impact on local environment. LA city residents can also recycle up to 9 used passenger car or light truck tires; Bring CA drivers license or DWP bill as proof of residency. For more information call (213) 485-3568.

12 Noon-6pm—2nd Annual Eastside Community Festival at the Neighborhood Music School in Boyle Heights. Event will include a basketball tournament, games, music, face-painting, a jumper, and more for the younger ones! There will also be several community organization sponsored information & resource booths. Free admission; food for purchase ($2 or less). The Neighborhood Music School is located at 358 S. Boyle Ave.,  LA 90033. Parking available at PUENTE Learning Center, 501 S. Boyle Ave., LA 90033.

2pm—Commerce Central Library Presents Free Screening of the “The Brick People,” a film about a company-town built around a famous Southern California brick factory, located from about 1900 until the 1950s in a corner of LA County near today’s City of Commerce. Appropriate for all ages. Location: Central Library – Council Chambers, 5655 Jillson St. Commerce 90040. For more information, call (323) 722-6660.

Sunday, June 2

10:30am-7pm—Lummis Day-The Festival of Northeast Los Angeles. Enjoy a full day of free music, dance, poetry and art representing a rainbow of cultural traditions at the eighth annual festival taking place at two Highland Park locations: Opening ceremonies, art exhibits, live jazz & poetry readings at Lummis Home, 200 East Ave. 43; and Heritage Square Museum, 3800 Homer St., where the best of home-grown Northeast L.A. music (rock to gospel), dance, food & community resources on four stages. A shuttle bus, provided by Council District 1, will ferry festival-goers between venues and parking areas. The Lummis Day performance line-up, schedule and parking information will be available at www.LummisDay.org.

Monday, June 3

7pm—Public Meeting on Bike Lane Proposal for Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock, presented by Councilman Jose Huizar. Los Angeles Dept. of Transportation, (LADOT) to address some of the specific safety & traffic flow concerns raised by the community & present adjusted plans. Huizar & LADOT will answer questions. The meeting will be held at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts, 2225 Colorado Blvd. LA 90041. For more information, call the CD 14 Northeast office at (323) 254-5295.

Wednesday, June 5

6:30pm—Montebello Public Information Session on Proposed Water Rate Increase in the Chet Holyfield Park Community Room. Get background information, ask questions & provide feedback on the issue prior to the public hearing on July 10. Chet Holyfield Park is located at 1060 S. Greenwood Ave. Montebello, 90640 For more information & additional information session dates, call (323) 887-1363 or visit www.CityOfMontebello.com.

7pm—Classical Repertory Theatre Company A Noise Within Presents 1st of 4 Free One-Night Summer Play Readings with “The Heiress” by Ruth & Augustus Goetz & based on the 1880 Henry James novel Washington Square. A Noise Within Theatre is located at 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, 91107. Readings are free, but reservations are appreciated, call (626) 356-3121 or visit www.ANoiseWithin.org for additional dates & titles.

Upcoming

June 6th Town Hall Meeting on State Budget State Budget Hosted by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). Garcia will discuss status of state budget & potential impact on local families & businesses across the district. Bring questions on budget & other legislative issues. Meeting will be held from 7-8:30 pm at Bell Gardens City Hall, 7100 Garfield Ave. To RSVP or for more information, call the Assembly office at (562) 402-4893.

Announcements

Volunteer to End Homelessness May 31-June 2 in Northeast Los Angeles as part of Recycled Resources for the Homeless’ collaboration with the National 100,000 Homes Campaign to find and house 100,000 vulnerable and chronically homeless individuals and families by July of 2014. Recycled Resources’ goal is to house the most vulnerable & chronically homeless residents of Northeast LA, including the communities of Highland Park & Eagle Rock. Schedule: Friday, evening training; Saturday & Sunday, 6-9am. For more information, call Casey MacGregor at (323) 379-9271 or Rebecca Prine at (323) 697-0001. You can also email homelessregistryNELA@gmail.com.

‘Champion Mothers’ Honored by LAUSD

May 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

More than 40 mothers were honored during the 4th Annual Guillermina Awards hosted by Los Angeles Unified School Board President Monica García.

The awards honored the women for the “courageous work” and leadership in Board District 2, represented by García

Local community organizations and school partners nominated the women, according to García’s office, which said the award is named for Garcia’s own mother, Guillermina Corrales García.

The award “serves as a symbol of the strength of women and role they play in their child’s life and education,” according to García’s office.

“Celebrating amazing women inspires all of us to share our gifts and talents to make our world a better place for our students and community,” García said

The honorees are: Ana Maria Mejia, Youth Policy Institute; Aracely Contreras, Youth Policy Institute; Aracely Soto Vasquez, Salesian Boys and Girls Club; Bertilla Amaya, Youth Policy Institute; Carla Abeyta, Bienvenidos; Claudia Lopez, Alliance for a Better Community; Delmira Gonzalez, Proyecto Pastoral; Diana Juarez, Puente Learning Center; Elsa Molina, L.A’s Promise; Elvia Teck, Youth Policy Institute; Esmeralda Bermudez, VELA; Esther Escamilla, Alliance for a Better Community; Flor Rodriguez, CLEAN Carwash Campaign; Gladis Navarrete, Youth Policy Institute; Gladys Sandoval, Advancement Project; Hilda Linares, L.A’s Promise; Holly Priebe-Diaz, Project SPIN; Iliana Estrada, Youth Policy Institute; Isis Quan, Youth Policy Institute; Jennifer Ambrillo, Families that Can; Lora Allen, Community Coalition; Machery Banks, Communities in Schools; Maria Cordova, L.A Boys & Girls Club; Maria Cristina Mauricio, CLEAN Carwash Campaign; Maria Galvan, CHIRLA; Maria Hernandez, Youth Policy Institute; Maria Marilu Mireles, Youth Policy Institute; Maria Marquez, Para los Niños; Maria Tunchez, APALC; Mi Sook Kim, CLEAN Carwash Campaign; Miriam Inzunza, Families in Schools; Norma Pimentel, ESC East; Odilia Pablo, Communities in Schools; Ofelia Sosa, Youth Policy Institute; Rachel Keipp, Communities in Schools; Rebeca Zazueta, Eastmont Community Center; Reina Villatoro, Community Coalition; Thanh Vuong, APALC; Yolanda Ramirez, Centro Latino for Literacy; Yolanda Rodriguez, Office of Councilmember Jose Huizar; Yvette Archie, Communities in Schools.

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