Get Your Car Checked, Take A Self-Defense Class, Start Celebrating Dia de los Muertos-Find Out Where On EGPNews’ Community Calendar

October 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Friday, Oct. 20

First of Two Free Women’s Self-Defense Workshops Oct. 20 (Koreatown) & Oct. 21 (Downtown L.A.) sponsored by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago. Learn how to protect yourself; discuss legislation on women’s issues. Locations: Koreatown-Olympic Community Police Station 1130 S. Vermont Ave. LA 90006); DTLA-Ketchum-Downtown YMCA 401 S. Hope St. LA 90071. For more info, call (213) 620-4646.

Saturday. Oct. 21

9am-1pm–Free Visual Car & Car Seat Inspection at the Highland Park Senior Center. Visual inspection includes lights, wipers, belts, hoses, vehicle battery & much more. Make sure your child’s car seat is safely installed. Senior Center located at 6152 N. Figueroa St. Highland Park, 90042. For more info, call (323) 255-7913.

3-9pm–Dia de Los Muertos Event at the East Los Angeles Civic Center, hosted by Sup. Hilda Solis, LA County Parks & Rec and Casa Cultural Saybrook. Enjoy live entertainment, altars, and artists. Center is located at 4801 E. 3rd St., LA 90022. Free admission. For more info, call (323) 260-2360 or visit http://parks.lacounty.gov.

3-10pm–Dia de los Muertos Festival in El Sereno on Huntington Drive. Enjoy traditional procession, Taste of El Sereno, Altartwalk, artisanal vendors, children’s games & more. Free admission. For more info, email Angie@elserenocommunityarts.com.

Sunday, Oct. 22

12-2:30pm–Lost Cemeteries of Los Angeles, Walking Tour with the Barrio Boychik. Meet at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes – in front of “La Tienda” Bookshop: 501 N. Main St., LA 90012. For tickets & more info, visit Tickets by Eventbrite.

11am-2pm–Pet Care Fair sponsored by SEAACA & Bell Gardens Police Department at Veterans Park: 6662 Loveland St. Free Admission. Event includes a low-cost vaccination clinic, pet licenses and/or microchipping, pets for adoption, pet costume contest & parade. Prizes throughout the day. Free hot dogs for every person who gets their dog or cat vaccinated, chipped or licensed at the fair. For more info, contact Bell Gardens Police Det. Benson at (562) 806-7618; for information on animal adoptions, visit the SEAACA website at www.seaaca.org.

Monday, Oct. 23

10:30-11:30am–Attend the Dedication of the Ruby Cedillo Breast Care and Imaging Center at the Arroyo Vista Family Health Center in Highland Park. Dedication is in conjunction with the observance of Breast Cancer Aware Month. Refreshments will be served. Arroyo Vista is located at 6000 N. Figueroa St, LA 90042. For more info or to RSVP, call Irene Holguin at (323) 987-2007 or email iholguin@arroyovista.org.

Tuesday, Oct. 24

6-8pm–First of Two Open Houses to Review Boyle Heights Community Plan Update-Repeats Sat., Oct. 28. Open Houses will showcase the draft plan update and proposed zoning. Locations: Oct. 24 (6-8pm) at Roosevelt High School Cafeteria, 456 S. Mathews St. LA 90033; Oct. 28 at Boyle Heights City Hall (10am-1pm) 1st Fl. Meeting Rm, 2130 E, 1st St., LA 90033. For more info, visit www.bhplan.org .

Wednesday, Oct. 25

6pm–Opening Night-Free Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead Novenario & Festival at Olvera Street in downtown LA. Nine consecutive nights of pageantry, featuring processions in traditional day of the dead dress, blessings, music, face painting, colorful public altars, dance & great food. Presented by the Olvera Street Merchants Assoc, & El Pueblo de Los Angeles. Day time & evening events. For more information & a schedule, visit www.olveraevents.com.

Upcoming

Ford Invites You to Share Your Love of the City Oct. 28 at the Dia de Los Muertos event at Forever Hollywood Cemetery. See new Ford vehicles, enjoy Day of the Dead activities, altars, music, food & much more. Time: 12pm to 12am. Forever Hollywood Cemetery is located at 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., LA 90038.

Se Rechaza Plan de Limpieza Exide

September 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

El plan desarrollado por reguladores estatales para limpiar la contaminación masiva cual fue dejada cuando la planta de reciclaje de baterías automotrices en Vernon dejará a demasiada gente en peligro, dijeron activistas ambientales, oficiales elegidos y residentes de municipalidades en cuales se han encontrado niveles peligrosos de plomo y otros contaminantes tóxicos en una rueda de prensa en Commerce este lunes.

El peligro y riesgos para la salud no paran en el portal o en el límite de la propiedad y tampoco deben quedar ahí su limpieza, muchos dijeron sobre el plan del Departamento De Control Sobre Substancias Tóxicas de California (DTSC) para limpiar propiedades contaminada por plomo de la planta cerrada de Exide Technologies.

Casi 200 personas asistieron a la rueda de prensa organizada por la “Coalición Para Comunidades Sin Plomo”, un grupo comunitario que representa a los pueblos de Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, Commerce, Bell, Huntington Park Maywood y Vernon, vecindades y municipalidades dentro de la zona de 1.7-millas que beneficiará de la limpieza. Después de la conferencia para los medios, manifestantes caminaron hasta las oficinas de la agencia estatal DTSC en Commerce, en donde exigieron coreando y con gritos una limpieza mayor y más rápida por parte del DTSC.

El peligro y riesgos para la salud no paran en el portal o en el límite de la propiedad y tampoco deben quedar ahí su limpieza, dijeron el Consejal Jose Huizar y diputado estatal Miguel Santiago. (Foto EGP por Fred Zermeno)

El peligro y riesgos para la salud no paran en el portal o en el límite de la propiedad y tampoco deben quedar ahí su limpieza, dijeron el Consejal Jose Huizar y diputado estatal Miguel Santiago. (Foto EGP por Fred Zermeno)

 

Compartida en julio, el plan de la agencia recomienda la remoción de tierra contaminada desde las yardas de aproximadamente 2,500 propiedades, siendo los hogares revelados por investigaciones con los niveles más altos de plomo y en lugares donde niños y mujeres embarasadas están corren riesgos mayores.

El plomo es una toxina peligrosa que es conocida como causa de enfermedades nuerológicas, descapacidades cognitivas o cerebrales, aún a bajos niveles de contacto. Aunque oficiales federales y estatales a cargo de la salud pública hayan establecido niveles aceptables de contacto, expertos dicen que no hay ningún nivel de contacto sin peligro.

Residentes y activistas excoriaron el plan como insuficiente y demasiada despacio para enfrentar al peligro para la salud. Este lunes, señalaron al DTSC que se debe agregar a las vias peatonales y a los interiores de viviendas al plan, y ampliar a la área designada para remediación. Vías recreacionales o “peatonales” se explica como la área entre una yarda o propiedad y la calle, que muchos residentes tratan como una extensión de su hogar.

“Esto no lo aguantarían en Porter Ranch o Beverly Hills,” dijo Monsignor John Moretta de la Iglesia Resurrection en Boyle Heights, uno de los organizadores principales de la lucha para rectificar al los daños causados por Exide.

Moretta aludía a la esfuerza rápida y económicamente fuerte que se efectuó en Porter Ranch, donde los residentes exigieron la clausura de una de la instalaciones de Southern California Gas Co. en Aliso Canyon después que se descubrió un escape de gas en octubre del 2015. Tomó menos de tres meses para trasladar a más de 2,000 residentes, cerrar a las escuelas y re-establecer a los alumnos en otros colegios, mientras los residentes que han tenido que vivir por décadas en la sombra tóxica de Exide todavía esperan que sus hogares se barren de la contaminación.

“Tiene todo que ver con la política y el dinero”, dijo Moretta. “Nuestros oficiales gubernamentales tienen que implementar un plan que sea 100 por cien sostenido por el presupuesto”.

Según los monitores de la calidad del aire, alrededor d 110,000 personas fueron expuestos a emisiones carinogénicos de la planta y más de 10,000 propiedades podrán tener algún nivel de contaminación por plomo. Expertos ambientales califican a la contaminación como la más grande en la historia del estado.

“Nuestros oficiales gubernamentales tienen que implementar un plan que sea 100 por cien sostenido por el presupuesto”, dijo Monsignor John Moretta de la Iglesia Resurrection en Boyle Heights. (Foto EGP por Fred Zermeno)

“Nuestros oficiales gubernamentales tienen que implementar un plan que sea 100 por cien sostenido por el presupuesto”, dijo Monsignor John Moretta de la Iglesia Resurrection en Boyle Heights. (Foto EGP por Fred Zermeno)

El Consejal de Los Angeles Jose Huizar dijo que la comunidad ha “gritado por auxilio” por más de 30 años, mientras la agencia DTSC “permitió” a Exide “contaminar” mientras “nuestros hijos fueron expuestos a contaminación de plomo, en el aire y en la tierra”.

“Y ahora el DTSC está ignorando la necesidad para un plan de limpieza complete que llega a todos los lugares en donde nuestro niños juegan y viven”, Huizar dijo en un correo electrónico a EGP. “El plomo está en todas partes, incluyendo las vías recreacionales, y es razonable que todas las áreas de la zona contaminada se deben limpiar… Esto es, literalmente, una cuestión de vida o muerte”, Huizar dijo. “¿Donde está la urgencia y porque no estamos armando una limpieza entera?” Calificó cualquiera esfuerza de limpieza menos de eso como inaceptable.

EGP intentó contactar al DTSC para una respuesta pero a punto de imprimir todavía no habían respondido, pero previamente, la agencia ha dicho que no tiene suficiente dinero para un limpieza completa – que expertos de salud y el ambiente estiman llegar a los $400 millones o más.

Como parte de su arreglo con autoridades federales para cerrar permanentemente y evitar cargos criminales, Exide accedió pagar $50 millones para la eliminación de sus gasto peligrosos; de eso, $26 millón era para a la limpieza de las vecindades cercanas. Después de mucho clamor de la comunidad, el Gobernador Jerry Brown accedió prestarle $176.6 millones al DTSC para una investigación y prueba igual como trabajo de limpieza en los barrio alrededor de la planta cerrada.

La Supervisora Hilda Solis dijo lunes que la área enmarcada por el plan de limpieza es demasiada pequeña y debe ser ampliada fuera del circulo de 1.7-millas. Ha criticado frecuentemente a los reguladores estatales por no actuar de manera suficientemente agresiva y por ignorar recomendaciones del condado y de los residentes.

Como Moretta, está convencida de que si las comunidades compuestas por Latinos de la clase trabajadora eran, a cambio, de más dinero y anglosajónes, el estado estaría haciendo más.

“Residentes tienen todo el derecho de estar enojados con el paso lento de la limpieza”, diputado estatal Miguel Santiago dijo a EGP. Dijo que había asistido a la manifestación porque tiene una responsabilidad a sus constituyentes seguir presionando a los reguladores estatales, algo que es, para el, una “prioridad principal” desde su elección.

Una encuesta informal de más de 4,000 residentes efectuada unas semanas antes de la revelación por la DTSC de su plan, señalo que muchos de los residentes de la área impactada temen por si mismos y los familiares con quienes viven ser envenenados o padecer de cáncer como resultado haber sido expuesto.

Los coros y gritos el lunes eran muy aparecidos a los que se han escuchado en cientos de manifestaciones, protestas y foros públicos durante los últimos cinco años.

Es una pena la comunidad tiene que recurrir a medidas tan drásticas como las protestas para declamar sus posiciones, dijo Moretta, agregando que los residentes del este y el sureste están recibiendo tratamiento como ciudadanos de segunda clase.

Notó que Sam Atwood, un vocero para el South Coast Air Quality District Management District (Distrito de Manejamiento de la Calidad del Aire Costa Sur) había etiquetado las áreas contaminadas como las peores que había visto en su vida.

“Tenemos hijos y familias en las calles”, dijo Moretta. “Es hora que empieza hacerlo.”

Reportero de EGP Carlos Alvarez contribuyó a este artículo.

State’s Plan For Exide Cleanup Continues to Draw Protests

September 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The plan developed by state regulators to clean up the massive contamination left behind by a now defunct battery recycler in Vernon will leave too many people in danger, environmental justice advocates, elected officials and residents of neighborhoods and cities found to have unsafe levels of lead and other toxic pollutants said at a press conference in Commerce Monday.

The danger and health risks from lead don’t stop at the front door or property line, and neither should its removal, speakers said about the California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (DTSC) plan to clean properties contaminated with lead from the now closed Exide Technologies plant.

About 200 people attended Monday’s press conference organized by “Lead-Free Communities Coalition,” a community-based advocacy group representing residents of Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, Commerce, Bell, Huntington Park Maywood and Vernon, neighborhoods and cities in the 1.7-mile zone targeted for cleanup. Following the press conference, protesters marched to DTSC’s offices in Commerce where they shouted and chanted for DTSC to do more and to do it faster.

At a press conference in Commerce Monday, Monsignor John Moretta (center), joined by hundreds of community activists and elected officials demanded the Dept. of Toxic Substances Control include parkways and home interiors in its Exide clean up plan. contamination zone. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

At a press conference in Commerce Monday, Monsignor John Moretta (center), joined by hundreds of community activists and elected officials demanded the Dept. of Toxic Substances Control include parkways and home interiors in its Exide clean up plan. contamination zone. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

The agency’s plan released in July calls for removing lead-contaminated soil from the yards of about 2,500 properties, with the priority being homes tested to have the highest levels of lead and where children and pregnant women are at highest risk.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who represents all the neighborhoods and cities in the impacted zone, said a canvass of 20,000 homes in the area earlier this summer found that 50% of the homes have children under the age of 6.

Lead is a dangerous toxin known to cause neurological disorders, learning and cognitive disabilities and lower IQ’s even at low levels of exposure. While the federal government and state health officials have set acceptable rates of exposure, health experts say there is no safe level.

Residents and activists have blasted the plan as insufficient and too slow to deal with the ongoing health hazard. On Monday, they said they want DTSC to add parkways and home interiors to the plan, and to expand the area targeted for remediation. Parkways are the area between a yard or property and the street, which many residents treat as an extension of their homes.

They said it’s time for state lawmakers to do what’s right and fully fund the the cleanup  of their neighborhoods.

“They wouldn’t stand for their (DTSC) actions in Porter Ranch or Beverly Hills,” said Monsignor John Moretta of Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights, a lead organizer in the fight to rectify the damage caused by Exide.

Moretta was referring to the quick and well-funded cleanup effort that took place in Porter Ranch, where residents demanded the closure of a Southern California Gas Co. facility in Aliso Canyon after a leak was discovered in October 2015. It took less than three months to relocate more than 2,000 residents, shut down schools and move students to other campuses, while residents living for decades in Exide’s toxic shadow are still waiting for their homes to be cleaned.

“It’s all about politics and money,” Moretta said. “Our government officials need to implement a plan that’s 100 percent funded.”

According to air quality regulators, as many as 110,000 people were exposed to cancer-causing emissions from the plant and upwards of 10,000 properties may have some level of lead contamination. Environmental experts say the contamination is the largest in state history.

Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar represents one of the most heavily contaminated neighborhoods, Boyle Heights. The community has been “screaming for help” for more than 30 years, while DTSC allowed Exide to continue to pollute, he told EGP. “All the while our children have been exposed to lead pollution, in the air and in the soil.

“And now, the DTSC is ignoring the need for a full cleanup plan that reaches all of the places our children live and play,” Huizar said. “The lead is everywhere, including parkways … This is literally a matter of life and death,” he said. “Where is the urgency and why aren’t we doing a thorough cleanup?” He called anything less than a full cleanup unacceptable.

EGP reached out to DTSC for comment but had not heard back as of press time, but the agency has previously said it does not have enough money to do the full cleanup – which public health and environmental experts have put at $400 million or more.

L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (right) joined protesters in Commerce Monday who say the state's plan to remove hazardous waste from homes is insufficient. Sept. 18, 2017 (EGP photo be Fred Zermeno)

L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (right) joined protesters in Commerce Monday who say the state’s plan to remove hazardous waste from homes is insufficient. Sept. 18, 2017 (EGP photo be Fred Zermeno)

As part of its deal with federal authorities to permanently close and avoid criminal prosecution, Exide agreed to pay $50 million for the removal of its hazardous waste; of that, $26 million was to go toward cleaning the surrounding neighborhoods. After a great deal of pressure from the community, Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to loan DTSC 176.6 million for environmental testing and cleanup work in the neighborhoods surrounding the closed plant.

State officials have said they will go after Exide to recoup the money, but no one seems clear on how or when that will happen.

Solis points out that this is not the first time the community has come together to demand a swift and thorough cleanup.

“This week’s rally was months in the making because DTSC is not listening to our communities who are buried in pollution and lead,” she said in an email to EGP. “DTSC’s methodology has limited ability to identify ‘hot spots,’ including parkways in front of homes,” said Solis, who has repeatedly criticized state regulators for not being aggressive enough and for ignoring recommendations from the county and residents.

She said the state is offering vouchers to residents to pay companies to go and “vacuum their carpets and wipe down walls,” and that’s not good enough.

The interiors should be decontaminated by hazardous waste experts at the same time that they remove lead from the exterior, she said.

Like Moretta, Solis believes that if the predominately Latino working class communities were more affluent and white, the state would be doing more.

“Residents have every right to be angry with the slow pace of the cleanup,” Assemblyman Miguel Santiago told EGP. He said he attended the rally because he has a responsibility to his constituents to keep the pressure on state regulators, something he’s made his “top priority” since first being elected. Santiago sent a letter to DTSC asking the agency to look into including parkways in its plan.

An informal survey of more than 4,000 residents conducted a few weeks before DTSC released its plan revealed that many residents in the impacted area live in fear that they or someone in their home may get lead poisoning or cancer due to their exposure.

There’s tremendous interest in how Exide has affected them, Solis said..

The chants and shouts Monday were much the same as those heard at hundreds of rallies, protests and public hearings over the last five years.

Moretta said it’s a shame the community has to resort to drastic measures like protests to make a statement. Residents in east and southeast communities are being treated like second-class citizens, the Catholic priest said.

He noted that Sam Atwood, a spokesman for the South Coast Air Quality District Management District had labeled the contaminated areas the worst he has ever seen,

“We have children and families on [those] streets,” Moretta said, referring to additional areas that should be cleaned.

“They’re [DTSC] suppose to protect people and our environment from toxic substances,” Moretta said. “It’s time they start doing that.”

EGP Staff Writer Carlos Alvarez contributed to this story.

Updated 9/22/17 : Adds information from Sup. Hilda Solis about the availability and effectiveness of vouchers for interior cleaning of homes.

Southeast L.A. County Leaders React to Election

November 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

By the time the polling booths closed Tuesday in California, Southeast Los Angeles County residents attending a “Bad Hombres and Nasty Women” election night party were already glued to their phones and TV screens, anxiously watching the electoral votes tally up against their candidate, Hillary Clinton.

The tongue-in-cheek event, hosted by Democrat Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia at The Bicycle Casino Hotel in Bell Gardens, was supposed to be a victory celebration, after all, almost all the polls earlier in the day had signaled victory for Clinton. Instead, a Donald Trump piñata sat untouched at the bar and a solemn mood persisted throughout the night.

At a Democratic "victory party' at The Bicycle Casino Tuesday, Hillary Clinton supporter Evamarie Balderas watches in disbelief as numbers fall into the win column for Donald Trump. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

At a Democratic “victory party’ at The Bicycle Casino Tuesday, Hillary Clinton supporter Evamarie Balderas watches in disbelief as numbers fall into the win column for Donald Trump. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Garcia kicked off the evening by asking attendees to stay focused and hopeful, despite Trump’s early lead.

“Irrespective of what happens we must show unity,” she told the crowd.

Yet, as the clock moved closer to midnight and projections for key battleground states like Ohio, Florida and Iowa brought Trump closer to the 270 electoral votes he needed to secure the election, the bar got busier as attendees struggled with disbelief.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” one person said.

“How did it get like this,” asked another in shock.

The local elected officials, campaign strategists and residents tried to do the math and tally the numbers, hoping for a Hail Mary victory for Clinton, but it was increasingly clear the night would not end as they’d hoped, and the impact would be far-reaching.

“This is a wake up call for our community and for our state,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard told the crowd as Trump’s lead continued to grow Tuesday. (EGP Photo by Nancy Martinez)

“This is a wake up call for our community and for our state,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard told the crowd as Trump’s lead continued to grow Tuesday. (EGP Photo by Nancy Martinez)

“Even if she wins, it’s very disappointing that someone who has dishonored our culture, insulted every minority, talked [disparagingly] about immigrants – and in spite of all that, so many people supported him …even Latinos,” a dismayed Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard told EGP .

The cloud from the presidential race made it difficult for elected officials at the event to celebrate their own victories: Garcia was reelected to serve the 58th District, Sen. Ricardo Lara will contine to serve the 33th District, Rep. Linda Sanchez, chair of the Hispanic Caucus, will once again represent District 38 in Congress and Roybal-Allard, the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress easily held on to her seat in the 40th District.

“This is a wake up call for our community and for our state,” Roybal-Allard told the crowd as Trump’s lead continued to grow. “Take tonight, regardless of turnout and use it as a foundation for building awareness, strengthening our community and being proud of being American.”

Rep. Linda Sanchez speaks to room full of Democrats Tuesday at the "Bad Hombres and Nasty Women" election night party in Bell Gardens. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Rep. Linda Sanchez speaks to room full of Democrats Tuesday at the “Bad Hombres and Nasty Women” election night party in Bell Gardens. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

In the early hours of the morning, business mogul and TV personality, and now President-Elect Donald Trump would rule the night, beating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, receiving 279 electoral votes to Clinton’s 228. Clinton was ahead in the popular vote.

Excerpts from EGP’s Election Night interviews:

Senator Ricardo Lara on electing more “nasty women and bad hombres:”

“We’re used to fighting,” he said. “We’re looking to elect more women and Latinos to state legislator.”

Rep. Linda Sanchez on being proud of California Democrats:

While campaigning in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona there were always “busloads of California Democrats [trying] to help turn those states blue,” she told the large crowd of Democrats. “As we’re still waiting for election results I know I did everything in my power before November to bring it home for Hillary Clinton.”

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard on Hillary Clinton’s Challenges:

“Part of what happened was the press and FBI Director [James] Comey,” she told EGP. “It was hard to recover from misinformation that was out; the FBI really undermined the election.”

On the U.S. Senate Race: “Its kind of sad that in the most Latino state we didn’t elect the Latina,” she said. “Southern California will not have reps in Washington.”

On Prop 64: “Given what’s happened in Colorado and facts from reputable, proven science that have shown marijuana negatively impacts the brain, there is just not enough research and safety regulations in place.”

On a Trump Presidency: “The reality is if Donald Trump wins the election I don’t know if he will follow through on what he promised like the wall and getting rid of immigrants,” she told EGP. “Everything is up in the air.”

Senator Tony Mendoza on what election means for State: “California will not change one bit, it stands alone and is trendsetter,” he said. “We have to set the example, nationwide we still need a lot of work to do.”

“Next session we have a lot of untouched issues, many that revolve around transportation.”

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia on increasing the number of women and minorities in the State Legislature: “I made a commitment to uplift other women,” she told EGP. “For women and women of color the work starts today to make sure our country looks more like California.”

On Prop 64: “There needs to be a change in the system,” she said. “My community is more likely get in trouble.”

Commerce Mayor Ivan Altamirano on Measure M:

“If it passes I’m hoping it will create a win-win and we can all sit at the table and start to fix our neighborhoods,” he told EGP. “In a way the repair of the 5 freeway was the main concern for Commerce, the expansion of the freeway needs to happen right, not 20 years from now.

Montebello Unified School Board Member Joanne Flores on Prop 51: “It will help us with funding tremendously,” she told EGP. “It will compliment funds we already have from our local bond that passed.”

Lead Found at LAUSD Schools

August 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

After learning lead had been found at Lorena Street Elementary where her two grandchildren attend school, Rosalia Valle wanted reassurance that they would be safe and that the cleanup would begin immediately.

“I’m really worried,” the Boyle Heights resident said in Spanish. “All I can do now is tell them to stay off the dirt.”

Last week the Department of Toxic Substances Control reviewed the results of recent soil samples conducted at Lorena Street Elementary in Boyle Heights and Rowan Elementary School in East Los Angeles and determined that levels of lead at both schools were higher than the 80 parts per million the state considers safe.

DTSC recommended that the Los Angeles Unified School District temporarily fence off the areas where lead was found.

Cleanup at both schools will begin as soon as this weekend for contaminated tree wells and could continue through the end of Thanksgiving break for the grassy areas, according to LAUSD officials.

Carlos Torres, deputy director of LAUSD’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety, told EGP the school district plans to go beyond just covering the bare dirt and tree wells as recommended, and will instead remove and replace all the contaminated soil.

“We don’t want to worry about this in the future,” he said. “We want to make sure the campuses are safe in the long run.”

An area near the entrance of Lorena Street Elementary was fenced off after high levels of lead were found in the soil. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

An area near the entrance of Lorena Street Elementary was fenced off after high levels of lead were found in the soil. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Norma Servin grew concerned about the danger to her 7-year-old when she noticed the fencing erected near the entrance to Lorena Street Elementary on Friday, and realized it was meant to keep children away from lead-contaminated soil.

“I just found out there’s lead where my daughter has attended school for years, where I dropped her off while I was pregnant,” she said, holding her baby.

Exposure to lead can lead to neurological damages in children and premature births in expectant mothers. Even low levels of lead can result in behavior and learning problem and lower IQs in children, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lorena, Rowan and nine other schools were originally tested by contractors hired by Exide Technologies during the summer of 2015, under orders from DTSC as part of the Exide-related cleanup. The Exide plant recycled hundreds of used lead-acid car batteries daily before it was permanently closed in March 2015, following years of illegal emissions and toxic waste violations.

At that time, levels of lead above the federal threshold of 400ppm were discovered at Eastman Elementary in East L.A., prompting the school district to quickly decontaminate the site.

“We didn’t want to wait around, we just removed the soil,” Torres told EGP this week.

DTSC has since tested an additional 11 schools within the 1.7-mile radius surrounding the Vernon plant, but no further action was required at those schools. However, before DTSC would clear the 11 schools tested by Exide contractors, they decided to re-test all the school sites, including Fishburn Elementary in Maywood, which was later cleared from requiring any soil removal.

Test conducted at Lorena and Rowan showed lead levels high enough to require intervention at those sites.

Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, second from left, met with representatives from LAUSD and the Department of Toxic Substances Control Monday at Lorena Street Elementary, where high levels of lead were founds. (Office of Assemblymember Miguel Santiago)

Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, second from left, met with representatives from LAUSD and the Department of Toxic Substances Control Monday at Lorena Street Elementary, where high levels of lead were founds. (Office of Assemblymember Miguel Santiago)

Parents, in the meantime, say they were in dark about potential lead problems at their children’s schools.

According to Torres, LAUSD sent its first notice informing parents of the test results in March. A second notice with the most recent results was sent out last week, and those results have also been posted on LAUSD’s website.

Unlike Eastman, Torres says Rowan and Lorena’s lower lead levels of about 100ppm were just slightly above the state’s hazardous threshold of 80ppm. He also noted that because the school district is conducting the cleanup instead of state regulators, a full CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) review is not required.

“If we waited for that we would be looking at this being done next summer,” Torres explained.

DTSC’s Assistant Director for Environmental Justice Ana Mascarenas told EGP the levels of lead found at schools were very low overall.

In comparison, “The 50 homes we have cleaned since then had the highest levels of lead, some above 1,000ppm,” she pointed out, explaining the urgency for remediating those sites first.

Assemblymember Miguel Santiago represents the area where the two impacted schools are located. He met with LAUSD and DTSC officials last week and says he received assurances that the campuses are safe at this time.

“Blocking off the areas has made the campuses safer than they were two or three weeks ago,” he told EGP. “But clean up is the long term goal.”

LAUSD estimates removing tainted soil at Eastman cost the school district thousands of dollars. It is not yet clear what the cost to clean Rowan and Lorena will come in at, however DTSC told EGP the agency fully expects the school district will seek reimbursement from the state.

“The most important priority is not who is going to pay or who is responsible, it’s the safety of the community,” said Santiago.

Watching her three children line up for class, Romero looks at her youngest child seated in a stroller and can’t help but again express her frustration and disbelief that the cleanup has not yet gotten underway.

“If lead affects children, you would think they would start the cleanup at schools” right away.

Coming Together at National Night Out

August 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Dozens of block parties were held across the Southland Tuesday night, drawing thousands of residents to join with local police officers, sheriff’s deputies and elected officials as part of the annual National Night Out crime-prevention event.

As many as 38 million people across the country were expected to take part in National Night Out activities, which annually takes place on the first Tuesday in August. Chief among its goals is to promote a partnership between the police and the community, which this year has been under greater strain due to some controversial police-involved-shootings and the ambush-style deadly assaults on police officers in recent weeks.

In Boyle Heights, the National Night observance included a peace march denouncing crime and violence.

LAPD National Night Out Santiago

(Office of Assemblymember Miguel Santiago)

Some cities, like Commerce, hosted BBQ-style block parties while other cities like Bell Gardens and Montebello held larger events at local parks that featured demonstrations from K-9 units, information booths and displays of public safety vehicles, to the delight of many children.

Started in 1984, National Night Out is billed as “America’s night out against crime.” It is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and co-sponsored by local municipalities and law enforcement agencies nationwide.

(City of Bell Gardens)

(City of Bell Gardens)

The event initially began as a call for people to hold small public gatherings in a take-back-the-streets show of community pride.

Over the years, the event has grown to include block parties, parades, movie screenings and picnics.

(City of Commerce)

(City of Commerce)

During the event, residents are encouraged to lock their doors, turn on their front house lights and join with neighbors, law enforcement and Neighborhood Watch leaders at local neighborhood events. Activities vary by event but generally include free food, police and fire displays, live entertainment and a chance to interact with city officials and local police officers.

Information from City news Service used in this report.

 

Cuota en Baterías de Vehículos Podría Pagar para Limpiar el Plomo

June 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Un proyecto de ley de California dirigido a la financiación de la limpieza de las comunidades contaminadas con plomo, como las que rodean a la planta de reciclaje de baterías de Exide ahora cerrada pronto podría obligar a consumidores e industrias a pagar una cuota de $1 por cada batería de automóvil de plomo-ácido que se vende en el estado.

Bajo la Ley de Reciclaje de Baterías de Plomo-Ácido (AB 2153)—aprobado por la asamblea del Estado el pasado viernes—los fondos recaudados serían depositados en un fondo para pagar por los esfuerzos de limpieza como los que actualmente se están llevando acabo en Boyle Heights, Los Ángeles, Commerce, Maywood y Huntington Park, donde unos 10.000 hogares pudieron haber sido contaminados por la antigua fundición de plomo. La exposición al plomo esta relacionada con el cáncer, defectos de nacimiento y problemas de desarrollo cognitivo en niños, mujeres embarazadas y ancianos.

Read this article in English: Fee on Automobile Batteries Could Pay for Lead Cleanup

“La asamblea del Estado está enviando un mensaje claro a los residentes en las comunidades afectadas que ellos si importan y que no los vamos a dejar que se queden sobre el suelo envenenado”, dijo la autora del proyecto, la asambleísta Cristina García.

Durante años, Exide Technologies recicló cientos de baterías de automóvil de plomo-ácido en su sitio de Vernon, acumulando decenas de violaciones de residuos peligrosos en el proceso. Exide, una de sólo dos instalaciones al oeste de las Montañas Rocosas, se le encontró que tenía emisiones de arsénico emitido en el aire y plomo en el suelo, exponiendo a 110.000 residentes del este y sureste a toxinas que causan cáncer.

Los funcionarios estatales estiman que el costo para limpiar las propiedades contaminadas podría ser llegar hasta los $500 millones, de lo cual Exide es responsable de pagar bajo un acuerdo con la Oficina del Fiscal de EE.UU., pero podría tomar años para recoger y al final no cubriría el costo total.

Si se aprueba, García estima que la nueva tarifa juntaría $70 millones al año para el fondo de limpieza de baterías de plomo-acido.

“Es algo que hemos estado hablando durante años”, dijo Mark López, director ejecutivo de East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice “¿Es suficiente para todos los problemas de plomo en California? No. Pero es un paso en la dirección correcta”.

David Scher, propietario de Auto Supply en el Este de Los Ángeles, con orgullo vendía baterías Exide durante años. El año pasado, después de comprobar que la compañía “no estaba actuando como un buen ciudadano corporativo”, Scher dijo se cambió a un proveedor diferente.

Baterías de auto marca Exide están en los estantes de Auto Supply en Este de Los Ángeles.

Baterías de auto marca Exide están en los estantes de Auto Supply en Este de Los Ángeles. (Cortesía de David Scher)

Scher le dijo a EGP que no le gusta la idea que los clientes paguen por adelantado para la limpieza causada por las corporaciones contaminantes.

“No debería haber llegado a este punto”, dijo. “Ellos están castigando a las víctimas”.

En un movimiento sin precedentes, a principios de este año el gobernador Brown aprobó un préstamo de $176,6 millones de dólares para ayudar a acelerar y ampliar pruebas y limpieza de viviendas, escuelas, guarderías y parques en el radio de 1,7 millas alrededor de la planta de reciclaje de baterías.

Los fondos recaudados de la cuota se utilizarían para volver a pagar el préstamo de varios millones de dólares hasta que los fondos se recuperen de Exide o cualesquiera otras partes responsables.

El asambleísta Miguel Santiago, co-autor del proyecto, explica el fondo es una manera para que el estado “espere lo mejor pero se prepare para lo peor”.

Se crea una vía legal para que el dinero del estado sea utilizado para tratar las cuestiones ambientales mientras que el estado persigue a los contaminadores.

“La situación de Exide le enseñó a California que no estábamos preparados para algo como esto”, dijo Santiago, en referencia a lo que muchos creen que va a ser la más grande y costosa limpieza ambiental en la historia del estado.

La AB 2153 también requiere que los fabricantes de baterías incorporen un símbolo de reciclaje en la batería, informando a los consumidores que el producto debe ser reciclado correctamente. Los que no cumplan pueden recibir multas de hasta $1,000 por día; esas cantidades también se depositan en el fondo de limpieza.

La versión del senado del proyecto de ley necesita ser aprobada antes de que pueda pasar al gobernador, el cual las autoridades estatales anticipan que podría suceder antes de agosto. Si es firmado por el gobernador, la nueva tarifa entraría en efecto el primero de enero de 2017.

“Exide sigue afectando mi patio trasero con los restos de la contaminación por plomo”, dijo García tras la aprobación de la medida en la asamblea.

“Este proyecto de ley es extremadamente vital para asegurar la limpieza y llevar alivio a nuestras comunidades”.

—-

Twitter @nancyreporting

nmartinez@egpnews.com

June 7, 2016 Primary Election Preliminary Results

June 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

United States President
Democratic Party
Hillary Clinton    1,940,773 (55.8%)
Bernie Sanders     1,502,187 (43.2%)

Republican Party
Donald Trump    1,175,270 (75.3%)
John R. Kasich    176,655 (11.3%)
Ted Cruz        144,173 (9.2%)

United States Senator
*Kamala D. Harris    2,051,252 (40.3%)
*Loretta L. Sanchez    943,091 (18.5%)
United States Representative
32nd District
Grace F. Napolitano    41,423 (51.73%)
Gordon E. Fisher        19,439 (24.27%)
Roger Hernandez        19,219 (24%)

34th District
Xavier Becerra        52,349 (79.61%)
Adrienne N. Edwards     13,410 (20.39%)

38th District
Linda T. Sanchez        63,037 (70.45%)
Ryan Downing        18,572 (20.76%)
Scott Michael Adams    7,870 (8.8%)

40th District
Lucille Roybal-Allard      43,809 (76.66%)
Roman G. Gonzalez      13,336 (23.34%)

State Senator
33rd District
Ricardo Lara        72,151 (100%)

State Assembly
51st District
Jimmy Gomez        45,075 (100%)

53rd District
*Miguel Santiago        16,316 (47.04%)
*Sandra Mendoza        13,727 (39.57%)

58th District
Cristina Garcia        41,082 (100%)

63rd District
*Anthony Rendon    32,700 (77.83%)
*Adam Joshua Miller    9,317 (22.17%)

*Runoffs

Measures
State Measure 50 – Suspension of Legislators
Yes        3,756,975 (75.3%)
No        1,234,537 (24.7%)

Montebello City Measure W – Sale of the Montebello Water System
Yes        3,984 (48.95%)
No        4,155 (51.05%)

Montebello Unified School District Measure GS – $300 Million Bond
Yes        13,652 (77.08%)
No        4,059 (22.92%)

Los Angeles County
District Attorney
Jackie Lacey    941,391 (100%)

EGP Ballot Recommendations for June 7, 2016 Primary Election

June 2, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

No one can say this campaign season has been boring, at least not in the Presidential races. For the first time in a long time, California voters will play an important role in the nominating process, as evidenced by the amount of time the two candidates for the Democratic nomination are spending in the state courting voters.

Voting is one of our most important civic duties, and we encourage all eligible voters to exercise their duty and vote June 7. Even if your are discouraged by the tone of presidential campaign, there are other important races and issues on the ballot that deserve your attention.

As is our custom, EGP will not be endorsing candidates who are unopposed for reelection, since we believe that their lack of opposition makes the question of their candidacy a mute point.

Clinton for President of the United States
Our endorsement goes to Hillary Clinton (no. 15 on your ballot) as the most qualified person for our nations’ highest office.

Hillary Clinton’s credentials as a former U.S. Senator and former Secretary of State and even her role as the country’s First Lady have more than adequately prepared her to be our president.

Her support for health care for all Americans going back to the Clinton administration assures us she will continue to expand the gains made by passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Her stint as U.S. Senator prepares her to negotiate with Congress on legislation important to the U.S. Her experience in foreign policy as Secretary of State and her acquaintance with many of today’s foreign leaders gives her quick entry into foreign affairs with other nations and the ability to negotiate to the U.S.’s advantage. We respect that she has been a long time supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, and expect that she would push legislation to make it happen if elected president.

We do, however, want to urge her to not obfuscate the details of her use of her private e-mail. While she isn’t the only government official to use a private e-mail server, (why single her out and not all the others?), she does have a responsibility to cooperate and be transparent about her use.

Why not Sen. Bernie Sanders? It comes down to we believe she has a better chance to defeat Donald Trump in the race for the White House.

We admire Sen. Sanders for his efforts to make our country a better place for all Americans, for raising the level of conversation about income inequality, onerous student debt, the country’s loss of good paying jobs, the shrinking of the middle-class and the influence of Wall Street on Washington, we believe that many of the changes he backs are not achievable. While we find it admirable that he wants to shake up our present financial and educational systems, the Congress, our judicial system including the Supreme Court, it seems to us that he is unwilling to accept that those same systems, as well as our states, will have a lot to say about what he is proposing.

Yes, at one time in California, a college education was nearly free. But college presidents didn’t earn million dollar salaries like they do today and colleges did not cost as much to operate as they do today.

We admire Senator Sanders for trying to level the playing field for all of us, but we believe Hillary Clinton can better negotiate with the Congress to accomplish that goal if elected President.

United States Senator
In our prior endorsement of Rep. Loretta Sanchez (no. 114 on your ballot) we stated that we believe her legislative credentials are far superior to any other candidate for U.S. Senator.

Twenty years in the Congress gives her the necessary experience in foreign affairs, homeland security and other issues that the Congress will address in the coming years.

One other important virtue we believe Loretta Sanchez has is that she is a Southern Californian, and we believe the ideal balance is to have one Senator from the southern half of the state and the other from the north.

Why not Attorney General Kamala Harris?

Attorney General Harris has proven herself to be a good litigator, but lacks the experience needed to be a good legislator.

United States Representative
34th District —Xavier Becerra – the first Latino to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee.
Becerra has used his position to increase opportunities for working families to improve social security programs for women and minorities, to help the working poor, strengthen Medicare and ensure its long term viability.
He has dedicated himself to promoting issues affecting industries critical to the Southern California region in health care, high technology, entertainment, free and fair trade. His continued tenure in the Congress is important to all Californians and our influence in the nation’s capitol.

40th District —Lucille Roybal Allard is the first Latino to serve on the House Appropriations Committee. She is the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee.

Roybal Allard also serves on two other appropriations subcommittees Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee.
Roybal Allard’s position on the House Appropriations committee has led to many federal projects that have created jobs for her district and Greater Los Angeles, among them; A New Federal Courthouse for the Central District of California Los Angeles Division; The Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension; Deepening the Port of Los Angeles to increase jobs and international trade for Los Angeles; Repairing and maintaining sewer and water systems; Preserving historic structures and culture facilities; Federal funding for local community health clinics.

Allard also authored legislation to require life saving screening of newborns and to prevent under age drinking.

She led the introduction of the Health, Equality and Accountability Act of 2014, a blue print to achieve health equality among all populations.

Roybal-Allard understands the importance of staying connected to her diverse constituents, and makes it a point to spend time in the District listening to the people she represents.

32nd District
Grace Napolitano – is the most senior member of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Napolitano currently serves as the top Democrat on the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, which oversees EPA’s Clean Water Act on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a boom to the state of California. As a conferee to fixing America’s surface transportation (FAST ACT) House and Senate Conference Committee, she was able to procure major victories for the state, which will receive over $26 billion for our crumbling roads, bridges, and transportation systems; $450 million a year for the Los Angeles region alone for transit. She introduced H.R. 241 the Water in the 21st Century Act to provide grants and loans for conservation, water recycling, groundwater and storm water and water infrastructure projects.

She is the founder and chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus and assisted in securing mental health in the Affordable Care Act.

During her tenure, Napolitano worked with former President George W. Bush and the Congress to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act of 1965. She also fought for a Democratic immigration over haul proposal that would have created a guest worker program, a path for citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Her leadership on mental health and water related issues have improved the quality of life of Californians.

Member of the State Assembly
63rd District – Speaker Anthony Rendon has served and chaired the Water, Park and Wildlife Committee. He assumed the role of Speaker of the Assembly on March 7, 2016, and has since demonstrated an openness to listen to constituents on issues before the Assembly, Rendon also authored Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion state water bond passed in November 2014 by the voters.

Rendon also authored AB 530 in 2015, which spurs revitalization of the lower portion of the Los Angeles River and AB 496, which connects schools with resources to improve clean drinking water infrastructure.

As chair of the utilities and commerce committee, he led the effort to ensure accountability of the California Public Utilities Commission.
Rendon has earned our endorsement.

53rd District – Miguel Santiago was elected to the assembly in November 2014, and while he hasn’t been in the legislature long enough to have a large record on legislation we find him a straight forward politician whose efforts on behalf of his district should give him a long record of accomplishment in the future. We appreciate that he has been a constant presence in the battle over Exide, attending the meetings and hearings that few of his counterparts in the Legislature have found time to take part in.

Montebello Measure W
The city of Montebello has decided to seek voter approval to sell the city-owned water utility, the Montebello Water System.

The city has had to subsidize the system that only serves about 1,600 ratepayers, only eight percent of the city’s water customers. In doing so, they have taken money that could have been used on services for a larger share of city residents and businesses.

What is being sold is the physical infrastructure; the city will retain its rights to pump water from its aquifer. The infrastructure needs an estimated $50 million in upgrades and maintenance, money the city just does not have.

Montebello officials want to sell the water system for $14 million to the San Gabriel Water Company, which already operates a portion of the system being sold, so it is not an unknown operator.

The sale makes sense given the city’s precarious financial situation and the prospect of another round of large budget deficits. It makes no sense to continue to pour money into a system that the city had no ability to improve, which will lead to further deterioration and  lowering of its value.

We recommend that the city use great prudence and transparency in what is does with the money generated from the sale. The best plan may be to earmark the sale revenue in a special account to close any future budget deficits.

Gov. Brown Signs Legislation to Fund Exide Clean-Up

April 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation today providing $176.6 million in funding for environmental testing and cleanup work in neighborhoods surrounding the now-shuttered Exide Technologies battery-recycling plant in Vernon.

“Children should be able to play in yards free from toxics,” Brown said. “With this funding plan, we’re doubling down on efforts to protect the community and hold Exide responsible.”

State officials said the funding would pay for testing of residential properties, schools, day care centers and parks within a 1.7-mile radius of the plant, and fund cleaning of as many as 2,500 properties with the highest lead levels.

There was no immediate word on when the effort would begin or how long it would take. The cleanup effort is subject to an environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Assembly Majority Whip Miguel Santiago applauded Gov. Brown for signing the Exide Clean-Up Package comprised of Assembly Bill 118 and Senate Bill 93.

“The Exide Technologies facility has been able to pollute my community unabated for more than 33 years, which is entirely inexcusable,” said Santiago, author of AB 118.

“Today’s action is an historic step toward fully resolving this appalling situation; but make no mistake – our work is not done here.”

The Exide plant permanently closed in March 2015. When Exide agreed to close the lead-acid battery recycling plant, it committed to pay $50 million for cleanup of the site and surrounding neighborhoods. Of that amount, $26 million is meant to be set aside for residential cleanup.

A crew from the Department of Toxic Substances Control cleans a home in East Los Angeles Wednesday. (Department of Toxic Substances Control)

A crew from the Department of Toxic Substances Control cleans a home in East Los Angeles Wednesday. (Department of Toxic Substances Control)

As of last August, Exide, which filed for bankruptcy in 2013, had paid $9 million into a trust and another $5 million was due to be paid by March 2020, according to state officials.

Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, called for a fast start to the state’s cleanup efforts.

“We’ve heard the distressing news recently that children living near the closed Exide plant had elevated blood lead levels so there’s no time to waste,” he said. “… I will continue working closely with state and local partners so that the testing and cleanup of homes moves forward expeditiously
and above all, in partnership with the families impacted by the lead contamination. We shouldn’t lose focus of what’s at stake here – restoring a clean and safe environment for our families.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti released a Spanish-language public service announcement, also featuring actress Angelica Vale, urging residents near the plant to have their property tested, and to undergo blood-lead level testing.

“My office will do everything possible to help the (Department of Toxic Substances Control) expedite the cleanup,” Garcetti said. “Identifying the areas and the people affected by lead contamination is a critical first step.”

The city of Commerce, in conjunction with the County health department, will be conducting free confidential lead blood testing at Rosewood Park from 9a.m. to 3p.m. during the annual Kids Are Cute Baby Show. The park is located at 5600 Harbor St. Commerce 90040. For more information, call (323) 722-4805.

EGP staff writers contributed to this report.

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