Montebello Police Arrest Suspect In Pico Rivera

November 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A man wanted for a restraining order violation in Montebello crashed his car into another vehicle in Pico Rivera on Sunday, at the same time police said they were on their way to his house to arrest him.

The crash, at Washington and Paramount Boulevards, occurred about 12:10 a.m., Montebello police Lt. Ron Santo said. The suspect was taken into custody.

“We were not in pursuit of the suspect,” Santo said, although the man may have known police were looking for him.

He said sheriff’s deputies from the Pico Rivera station were investigating the crash.

A videographer at the scene said a Nissan 350 Z struck a Toyota Tacoma head-on, and an 83-year-old woman in the Toyota was taken to a hospital, as was the Nissan driver, who may have been in a Halloween outfit.

County firefighters confirmed two people were taken to hospitals.


Affordable Housing Should be a Top Issue In Mayor’s Race

November 1, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

The Presidential Election isn’t even over yet, but a coalition in Boyle Heights has already started their campaign efforts directed at the Los Angeles Mayoral contest in March 2013 in hopes of ensuring that affordable housing issues are part of every candidate’s campaign platform.

Dozens of people participated in the town hall meeting at the Felicitas and Gonzalo Méndez Learning Center on Oct. 26. (EGP Photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Comunidades Unidas de Boyle Heights (United Communities of Boyle Heights) on Oct. 25 held one of three meetings aimed at organizing residents to engage with the mayoral candidates so whomever wins will better represent the low-income, working-class community. The coalition is comprised of non-profit organizations that focus on a variety of issues, including land use and planning, housing, education justice and leadership development.

According to coalition member Elizabeth Blaney of Union de Vecinos, affordable housing is one of their top priorities because development projects over the last decade have reduced the stock of rent-controlled, below market rate housing to the area’s long-time residents.

As examples, Blaney points to housing units demolished to make way for the construction of the Metro Eastside Gold Line Extension and the Hollenbeck Police Station. All the units demolished as part of the Pico-Aliso housing redevelopment project were not replaced, Blaney added.

Now there is an opportunity to create housing on Metro owned vacant lots that current residents can afford, she said.

“The land should not be given to the corporations, it should be given to the community,” Blaney told EGP, saying the plots should be developed to benefit residents, not to line the developer’s pockets.

About 94,000 people live in Boyle Heights and 75 percent of them are tenants or renters, according to the coalition.

“Faced with a growing population and a net loss of affordable housing over the last 10 years, the current demand for quality affordable housing in this working class community has not been met. Rents are constantly being raised at the expense of quality and accessibility. Families are forced to share housing units because there are few options available. With 30 percent of the residents living below the poverty level, quality affordable housing continues to be a pressing concern,” according to the town hall announcement.

The coalition hope meetings like this will drum up support in the community, and put pressure on the candidates in the 2013 mayor’s race to address the issue during the election.

The next town hall meeting is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 15. A third meeting, this time a mayoral candidates forum, will be held sometime in January, according to the coalition.

The coalition—which focuses on housing, education and jobs—is comprised of the East LA Community Corporation, Proyecto Pastoral, Union de Vecinos, InnerCity Struggle, and Legacy LA. It was formed around 2005 in response to a proposed redevelopment at the Sears distribution center in Boyle Heights. Coalition members wanted the community to have a voice and the developers to be socially responsible, according to Blaney.


County Brings Pet Clinic to Monterey Park

November 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

This week many Monterey Park pet owners attended the City’s Annual Dog License and Vaccination Clinic, where they obtained licenses, low-cost vaccination and free microchips for their pets before law enforcement begins canvassing the city for unlicensed animals.

Evelina Villa, the acting public information officer for the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control, told EGP that since the city now contracts with county and not the San Gabriel Valley Human Society, the event was an opportunity for local pet owners to take care of licensing and other issues.

Dogs and owners line up for Monterey Park’s Annual Dog License and Vaccination Clinic. (EGP Photo by Nancy Martinez)

“The county of Los Angeles contracts with the city of Monterey Park and we believe in outreaching to the community,” Villa said. “Vaccinating and licensing the animals in the community is very important.”

Monterey Park Police Lt. Bill Cuevas told EGP that officers will start canvassing the city for pets to ensure they are licensed beginning after the first of the year.

“All the people that live in Monterey Park by law have to get the license,” Villa said. “The law is you need to license your pet if its four months or older. They have to get the vaccination for the rabies too, that’s why they are all here.”

The cost to license dogs is $20 for neutered and $40 for un-neutered. Licenses for cats that are neutered are $10 and $5 for those that are neutered. For those pet owners that are caught with an unlicensed pet, the owner must pay double the license fee.

Tracy Troung took her terrier-mix “Pookie” to the clinic to be vaccinated so she can complete her license application.

“We’re here for the rabies shot so I can send the paperwork to the county,” Truoung told EGP. “And they’re offering microchip which is really great so we can track if she happens to run out.”

The change in contract had previously made it inconvenient for pet owners like Christine Norris to license their pets.

“This [event] is so great, part of the problem is that Monterey Park is not contracting with San Gabriel Valley Humane Society anymore so now we have to go to Downey, and I’m sorry [but] I can’t afford the gas to drive all the way to Downey,“ said Norris.

Villa told EGP they organized the event with the city to make it convenient for residents, who lined up as early as 7:30 a.m.

Steve Gonzalez took his Miniature Pincher mix “Mama” to the clinic to take advantage of the low cost vaccination, which included the rabies shot for $10.

“Its so important to come to these things, you get to meet and greet people and get familiar with other people, other dogs,” said Gonzalez.

Those residents who still need to license their pets can go to the L.A. County Animal Care Center in Downey where they can still receive the low-cost vaccination and free microchips, or visit animalcare.lacounty.gov for more information.

“Monterey Park is a new city for us so this is our first real outreach event with them, so we’re really excited to be here and provide services to residents of Monterey Park,” Villa said.

Myths and Millionaires

November 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

As every good businessman knows—including Governor Romney with whom I had been associated as a limited partner at Bain Capital Ventures—the soundness of a company and its ability to create jobs does not rest on lower taxes or tax avoidance—for the company or its senior management.

If Governor Romney and Congressional Republicans continue to insist on renewing the special Bush tax cuts that go only to the wealthiest 2% of Americans like me, it will do nothing to create jobs. It is a fiction, pure and simple, that taxing so-called “job creators” will have an adverse effect on the economy.

Just the reverse is true. Instead of spending nearly $1 trillion on tax cuts to make millionaires even richer, those tax dollars can be used more constructively to retain teachers, police officers and firefighters and repair roads and bridges. These are all essential services that will rebuild our economy and maintain a civil society. In addition, these tax dollars will contribute to deficit reduction.

The son of a Lithuanian immigrant to this land of now diminishing equal opportunity, I had the good fortune to start a small company that enjoyed a measure of success that was eventually acquired by The Stride Rite Corporation. Twelve months later I was asked to become president of Stride Rite.

Throughout the last ten years of my tenure, the company’s return on investment was in the top one percent of all companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange. We created thousands of new jobs. By the time I left, we had over 5,000 employees. Our success rested on the quality of the product and service provided to consumers. It was a reflection on the quality of the workforce as well as the management. My success could not have been possible without the people, who we continued to hire and to train as we grew. I depended on them as much as they depended upon me.

In the years we were creating so many jobs, my federal income taxes on the top slice of my income were sometimes as high as 70% — But these rates never discouraged me or anyone else from hiring workers or growing a company.  Today we’re paying about half that on the top portion of salaries and fees, and a meager 15% on the big chunk of our income that comes from investments. That’s why Governor Romney and I and many other millionaires, pay a lower income tax rate than many working American families.

Many millionaires never create any jobs at all. Those who do will create them regardless of the tax rate, and certainly won’t be dissuaded by the small increase of about five percentage points the President has proposed. The myth of millionaires as job creators being turned off by higher taxes is the creation of some members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate who are funded by these same millionaires. They know little about what makes companies successful. Romney knows better. It is a matter of record that during the time tax rates, both corporate and personal, were so much higher, our economy was booming. Conversely, the slowest job growth since World War II took place between the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and the 2008 economic meltdown.

A few months ago, every Republican in the House and Senate, along with 19 House Democrats and two Senate Democrats, voted against a bill ending the Bush tax breaks for the richest 2 percent, but extend them for 98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses. I hope they will take a fresh look at the facts. That’s why I joined with over 100 other millionaires in signing a Voices for Progress letter to all members of Congress, appealing to them not to renew these tax breaks.

Allowing the wealthiest 2% to withhold tax dollars robs children of health and education. It is not only immoral, it is bad economics. They are the future of our country, which has begun to fall behind our competitors. It is also destroying the American Dream, which brought my father to this country alone at the age of 15. Both he and the Founding Fathers would agree that the future of this nation should not be compromised by the shortsightedness of those so well off in the present. These are not the values that made this country great.

Arnold Hiatt was the CEO of The Stride Rite Corporation. This article previously appeared in The Boston Globe. Distributed by American Forum.

Deal With Unions Closes Monterey Park City Hall On Fridays

November 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Monterey Park City Hall will start closing on Fridays due to an agreement reached with its labor unions. In exchange, the city’s labor unions have agreed to allow a 10% employee work furlough to stay in place for 27 more months.

To accommodate those who have business at city hall, Monday through Thursdays operating hours will be extended: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the busiest days.

In accordance with the agreement, the change in operating hours starts this Friday, and will run through December 30, 2014

Thomas J. Cody, Monterey Park’s Director of Human Resources and Risk Management, told EGP that the 10% furlough unions agreed to a year ago, which cut hours for employees, is saving Monterey Park a million dollars annually, and will continue to save the city that same rate for the next 27 months, through December 2014 when the agreement ends.

“Were not in dire shape at all but we’re still looking at the effects of the economy,” said Cody.

According to Cody, Monterey Park has been able to balance its budget by cutting spending when necessary.

“Monterey Park has gone ahead of the curb by looking at their budgets and their staffing,” Cody said. The council said “we’re going to spend exactly what we get.”

Previously, City Hall was open on Fridays for half the day and Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. According to Cody, the City Council did not want to decrease the number of hours open

“The council wanted to spread the hours that were being lost on Fridays,” Cody said. “For the most part we’ve maintained offices and services, we just have less staff.”

Under the new agreement, 18 months from now the furloughs will be reduced to 5% for the remaining 9 months.

“The labor unions came to the table to assist the city,” Cody said. “In essence, the city needed to continue furloughs for the next 18 months.”

He said the city hopes to open City Hall on Fridays with normal business hours once the agreement ends.

“Hopefully the economy will support that then,” Cody said.

Cody told EGP he does not believe that the change will affect very many residents, and noted how understanding Monterey Park residents have been about issues like this in the past.

“The community understands that we’re facing difficult fiscal times,” Cody said. “I think since the community saw that we we’re open half days on Fridays they mostly conducted their business Monday through Thursday.”

Several holiday observances were also adjusted in the agreement, specifically City Hall being open Veteran’s Day on November 11, 2012.

Correction: A previous version of this story indicated that the city hall hours were extended to 8:00 p.m. The correct hours are from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Nearly 160 LAPD Job Cuts Possible Under City Hall Savings Plan

November 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Close to 160 Los Angeles Police Department employees could be laid off by Jan. 1 under a cost-cutting plan endorsed by city leaders last week, according to a memo that Chief Charlie Beck posted on the department’s internal website.

Beck said the layoffs would involve one police administrator III, a nutritionist, 10 secretaries, 81 senior clerk typists and 66 clerk typists. The positions were selected when the layoffs were first proposed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the spring and might be modified under current plans, Beck said.

The LAPD has lost 628 civilian employees to budget cuts and early retirement offers since 2009, according to the department.

“I know this is a very stressful time for all and I want to avoid rumors and miscommunication which can only increase the stress level,” he wrote, adding that city workers to be laid off would be notified by the city’s Personnel Department by Dec. 14.

The chief’s memo was in response to warnings this week from Villaraigosa and City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana for the City Council to act quickly to finalize more than 200 layoffs citywide or risk widening an already significant budget deficit – $16.6 million less than half way through the fiscal year.

Santana predicted a budget hole of $216 million for the next fiscal year, which starts in July.

“While we have worked hard to avoid this scenario, the CAO’s report still demonstrates that the city is facing extreme deficits in the General Fund. The department will continue to work with the CAO, the mayor’s staff and City Council during the upcoming weeks to discuss any and all possible

solutions and outcomes,” Beck wrote.

Beck said he is committed to keeping staff informed and ordered the LAPD Office of Administrative Services to update employees weekly until there is a resolution.

In 2010, the union representing nearly 10,000 Los Angeles police officers estimated that every 100 sworn officers that are pulled off regular duties to do desk work means 30 fewer police cars citywide.

A spokesman said the Los Angeles Police Protective League is waiting to see what the City Council does with Villaraigosa’s budget request, “however the League is concerned about how the work will be done because any delays in the department’s `support function’ will definitely affect the ability of officers to respond to law enforcement issues impacting residents and businesses in Los Angeles.”

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the cuts would “absolutely” slow down some police work. Commanding officers who lose a secretary will have to perform much of the tedious work of keeping their calendars, managing a barrage of correspondence and other office duties themselves, instead of doing the work of managing public safety, he said.

Most of the clerk typists targeted for layoffs manage and retrieve records for detectives’ investigations and for city attorneys, as well as requests from the public. Smith said the department might have to shut down certain records sections periodically because of a lack of staff to cover the shifts.

“It’s going to slow down a lot of the stuff we do,” Smith said. “It’s going to be very difficult for us to continue to provide the same level of service without these key partners.”


Obama Campaign Calls Gov. Romney ‘Extremist’ on Immigration Issue

November 1, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

President Barack Obama’s campaign manager, Jimmy Messina, on Monday characterized Republican challenger Mitt Romney as the presidential candidate with the most extreme views on immigration in history, adding it will cost him the Latino vote.

“Romney is the most extreme candidate on immigration in history. It’s one of the reasons our campaign is ahead,” Messina told reporters during a telephone press conference. Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod and the Democratic Party’s media secretary joined Messina.

“The highest number of Latinos in history will vote in this election, in both the number of actual votes and percentage of voters. Obama has received more Latinos votes than any other presidential candidate in the history of campaign elections,” said Messina”

“The loss of the Latino vote, he said, could be “the greatest calculated error by the Romney campaign.”

Romney’s campaign has acknowledged the existence of problems in how they “communicate” with Latino voters.

“No we are not communicating (with those voters) effectively,” explained former ambassador Otto Reich, a spokesperson for Romney’s campaign told Efe, a Spanish language news service last week.

In its last survey of Latino voters, Latino Decisions had Obama leading 73 percent to Romney’s 21 percent among likely voters.


Day of the Dead/ Dia de Los Muertos Events

November 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Thursday, Nov. 1

10am-3pm—Dia de los Muertos Festival at East Los Angeles college, with live performances by Xipe Totec. Conjunto Hueyapan, Quetzal, Ixtli Yolotl, and an altar display at the Vinent Price Gallery. Bring a new toy for student toy drive. ELAC is located at 1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park 91754, between S1 & S2 buildings. For more information, email roveroa@gmail.com.

5-9pm—Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center for the Arts & Education Traditional Ceremonial Blessing and community art workshops. Face painting, Mexican cut flowers, papel picado, Día de Los Muertos masks, skeleton puppets. Special screening: Macario 7pm; Margo Albert Theater Live performances, community alters, Día de Los Muertos Exhibit, food available. Plaza de la Raza is located at 3540 N. Mission Rd., LA 90031. For more information, call  (323) 223-2475 or go to www.plazadelaraza.org

(Photo coutesy of Forest Lawn)

Friday, Nov. 2

2pm-2am—Boyle Heights Certified Farmers Market Presents 3rd Annual Dia de Los Muertos. Live bands, DJs and entertainment all night long. Vendors, food, arts and crafts, face painting. For more information contact Tonie (951) 224-4164

2-4pm—Celebrate Dia de Los Muertos at Grand Park in downtown LA with live music, visual artists, food trucks, altars and more. For more information visit grandpark.lacounty.gov/

5-11pm—Self Help Graphics & Arts 39th Annual Día de los Muertos Celebration—Recuerdos Que Nunca Mueren (Memories That Never Die) —a free public event., musical performances, food and craft vendors, face painting and children’s workshops. Dress in your best Katrin, Katrina, or Calaca attire for dancing, fotos, or just to be with the spirits and antepasados! Procession starts at 5pm at Mariachi Plaza, take Metro Goldline to Mariachi Plaza station. Self Help is located at 1300 East 1st Street, Boyle Heights, 90033 – Metro Gold Line Pico Aliso stop. For more information, go to www.selfhelpgraphics.com

6-8pm—Forest Lawn Covina  & Forest Lawn Cypress Hosts Free 3rd Annual Dia de los Muertos events, where family and friends can honor, celebrate and remember loved ones who have passed away. Bring a photo of a loved one to place on community altar. Events include live mariachi music, Aztec dancers and a special ceremony. Forest Lawn Covina is located at 21300 Via Verde Dr., Covina 91724. Forest Lawn Cypress is located at 4471 Lincoln Ave. Cypress, 90603. For more information, visit www.forestlawn.com or call (800) 445-4303. (pictured) One of the many inspiring altars from past events.

Pot Shop Initiative One Step Closer to Ballot

November 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The City Clerk Tuesday gave a group of medical marijuana proponents a green light to gather signatures for a ballot measure intended to allow about 100 pot dispensaries to remain open in the city.

According to an official summary, the ordinance would allow groups of five or fewer to jointly grow and share marijuana. Collectives of six or more would be technically prohibited under the ordinance. But the city would barred from prosecuting a select 100 or so dispensaries which meet certain conditions, including having opened before Sept. 14, 2007, when the city first tried to place a moratorium on new pot shops.

The so-called limited immunity plan is supported by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, which represents about 500 workers at 50 dispensaries, among others.

In addition to having opened prior to the September 2007 cutoff, collectives must not have ceased operations for 90 days or more except to relocate or in response to federal prosecution; must have no access from adjacent residential zoned lots; and must pass annual police department background checks.

Qualifying dispensaries would have 300 days to move to locations that are a certain distance from schools, parks and other designated places.

A plan by City Councilman Paul Koretz similar to the proposed ballot initiative is also moving through the city legislative process.

Backers of the proposed ballot measure have until Dec. 7 to gather 41,138 valid signatures to put the measure before voters on the May 21, 2013, general election ballot.

The move comes less than one month after medical marijuana proponents were successful in getting the City Council to repeal a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.

The City Council in July had approved an ordinance banning all storefront medical marijuana dispensaries but allowing patients and licensed caregivers to grow their own cannabis. The so-called “gentle ban’’ ordinance also allowed three or fewer parties to collectively grow pot.

The Committee to Protect Patients and Neighborhoods — a coalition of medical marijuana advocates comprising Americans for Safe Access, the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance and UFCW Local 770 — subsequently gathered the necessary signatures needed to put a referendum of the law on a city election ballot.

The City Council conceded that a referendum was sure to pass, the council voted 11-2 in favor of repealing the law instead of putting it to voters.


Huerta Visits With Local Students

November 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

(EGP Photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Pictured: UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta recently visited Malabar Elementary School where she met with students in Rosa Serrano-Overstreet’s classroom before speaking to students and parents assembled in the school’s auditorium. She told students that education is a path toward success in life. She elaborated upon her personal life experiences including organizing farm workers and helping to advance the cause of marginalized communities. Huerta’s visit was the result of Serrano-Overstreet winning a Dolores Huerta Foundation contest: the teacher created a classroom lesson plan that teaches students about the life of Dolores Huerta.

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