Without Unity, We’ll Tumble Over Fiscal Cliff

November 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Debt! Deficit! Fiscal cliff! How to make sense of it all?

For two years now, there’s been increasing talk and more than a little fear-mongering about the runaway growth of our federal budget deficit. Now something called the “fiscal cliff” is making headlines.

The fiscal cliff refers to a series of federal spending cuts and tax increases that are all scheduled to take effect on New Year’s Day. If these changes happen all at once, they could easily turn our weak recovery into a double-dip recession. But over the coming weeks, lawmakers will have the opportunity to negotiate a better budget deal for this country — and, believe it or not, you can help.

Contrary to what most people think, the fiscal cliff refers to what will happen if the government reduces the deficit, not if it starts to run a larger deficit. The spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to start in 2013 would reduce the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars as compared to 2012. You might ask: Isn’t that a good thing?

You could say it’s way too much of a good thing, and bad timing to boot. By some estimates, the pending across-the-board budget cuts would eliminate as many as 2 million jobs in 2013. Teachers, firefighters, and even military contractors would be out of work. The government also would cut orders for goods and services from the private sector — like the cement it takes to repair bridges and the equipment required for maintaining our national parks — and those businesses would suffer losses.

Just because these cuts would be harmful now doesn’t mean we can never slim down government spending. It just means we should choose which things to cut — instead of slashing funding across the board — and then make those cuts gradually as the private sector adds jobs. That way, unemployed workers would have a better shot at finding a new job.

Our lawmakers have a delicate task before them. It’s their job to hammer out a budget deal that avoids these immediate cuts and replaces them with a smarter, long-term plan for deficit reduction. Partisan gridlock has prevented such negotiations from taking place, and this is where you can help.

Many Republican lawmakers have said the only way to slim down a deficit is to reduce spending, while many Democratic lawmakers have said we must also raise taxes on wealthy Americans. Meanwhile, more and more Americans are asking lawmakers to compromise and make a deal that addresses both sides of the budget: taxes and spending. There’s growing momentum behind this idea.

You have a role to play too. Call your legislators. Ask them to work across the aisle to come up with a bipartisan deal to replace deep, immediate cuts with a long-term plan that addresses the whole budget: taxes and spending.

OtherWords.org guest columnist Mattea Kramer is a senior research analyst at National Priorities Project and the lead author of the new book A People’s Guide to the Federal Budget.

Community Calendar Nov. 15-Nov. 21

November 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Today, Thursday Nov. 15

4:30pm—The City Terrace Library presents Loteria – Mexican Bingo and Poetry. Bingo players ages 12-18, join us in a game of Loteria. Mexican riddles and poetry will be discussed. The Library is located at 4025 E. City Terrace Dr. LA 90063. For more information, call (323) 261-0295.

5:30-7:30pm—“Building Occidental: The Road to Eagle Rock” Screening, Exhibit Tour & Reception at Occidental College as part of the college’s 125th anniversary celebration. “The Road to Eagle Rock” tells the story of the formative years of Oxy-1887 to 1914- in a pictorial essay. Occidental College Gallery:1600 Campus Rd, LA 90041. For more information, visit http://www.oxy.edu/events/road-eagle-rock-exhibit-tour-reception

Friday, November 16

4:30-6:45pm—Metro Holiday Toy Express and ABC7’s Spark of Love Toy Drive Come to Union Station. Commuters traveling through Union Station are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy to donate at platform 7 (tracks 13 and 14), where they will see the dazzling holiday train, Santa, live music and more. For the full schedule of the Holiday Toy Express, visit metrolinktrains.com.

7-10pm—Self Help Graphics Hosts The East LA Society of Film & Art (TELA SOFA) –The Journey Within Music Festival with performances and entertainment by renowned author and poet Luis J. Rodriguez, the Frida Kahlo High School music program, L.A.’s son jarocho favorites Cambalache, Andean inspired cumbia rock band Hijos de la Tierra. $10 donation. Proceeds support TELASOFA’s programs. Self Help is located at 1300 E. First St., Boyle Heights 90033. For more information, call (323) 881-6444.

Saturday, November 17

8am-2pm—Free Electronic Recycling Drop-Off Event at the Glassell Park Recreation Center: 3650 Verdugo Rd. LA 90065. Recycle your old televisions, monitors, computer systems, copiers, fax machines, mp3 players, printers, cell phones, wires, and anything with a plug (except large appliances). No alkaline batteries or light bulbs. Proceeds benefit the park. Hosted by LA Parks Foundation.

8am—Attend LA Mayor’s Community Budget Day with DONE and Neighborhood Councils, and provide critical feedback on budget items which directly affect local neighborhoods. RSVP and register online: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MCB_Day_2012 or call (213) 978-1551. Location: City Hall, Board of Public Works Rm, 200 North Spring St. LA 90012.

10am-2pm—Home Expo & Home Rescue Fair at Luther Burbank Middle School in Highland Park. Information and resources for first time homebuyers; learn how to qualify for $55,000 in assistance. HUD authorized Housing Counselors can help to troubled homeowners. School: 6400 N. Figueroa St. LA 90042. For more information, or to RSVP, go to www.mhdcca.org or call (323) 722-3955.

10am-2pm—Friends of Cypress Park Library Hosts Big Saturday Used Book Sale. Thousands of used, near-new, and occasionally rare and out-of-print books, CDs & DVDs for all interests, on sale. Proceeds benefit the Cypress Park branch library: 1150 Cypress Avenue (at Alice Street), in Cypress Park. Call (323) 224-0039 for more library information.

2pm & 3:45pm— The Montebello Library Presents Two Free Showings of the film “The Brick People” at 2pm and 3:45 pm. The Brick people tells the story of Mexican immigrants who lived and worked at the Simons Brickyard, formerly located on the border of Commerce and Montebello. Discussion follows screenings. Library: 1550 W. Beverly Blvd. Montebello 90640.  For more information, call (323) 722-6551 and ask for Rosemary Gurolla.

Sunday, November 18

6:30am—City of Commerce’s Annual “Turkey Trot,” a 5k run through the Rosewood Park neighborhood. All ages invited. Check-in 6:30-7:45 am; 5k starts at 8am. Buy a souvenir t-shirts for a nominal fee. Register now. For more information, call the Sports Office: (323) 887-4432.

9:30am-5pm—“20/20 Vision” –The Arroyo Arts Collective Discovery Tour, a self-guided auto tour featuring more than 100 artists in homes and studios in Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Mount Washington, and neighboring areas. Tour begins at the Lummis Home, 200 E. Ave. 43, Highland Park, 90031. To purchase tickets ($10 in advance; $15 day of tour) or for more information, go to www.arroyoartscollective.org or call (323) 902-7875.

10am-4:30pm—The 22nd Annual Mariachi Festival at Mariachi Plaza-Metro Gold Line Station First St. and Bailey St. Enjoy live performances by Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, Mariachi Voz de America, Mariachi Sol de Mexico and many more. In participation with The Boyle Heights International Farmers Market and Councilman José Huizar, CD 14. For more information, go to www.mariachifestival.info.

1-5pm—Save Glassell Park Pool Party Fundraiser. Event will feature swimming games, food, prizes, and more. Location: Glassell Park Recreation Center, 3650 Verdugo Rd LA. For more information, please contact Maggie Darett-Quiroz at (323) 788-1323 or mdarett@sbcglobal.net.

Upcoming Events

Entry Applications are being accepted for the 68th Annual Northeast Los Angeles Holiday Parade on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1pm. Parade begins at Ave. 60 & Figueroa and ends at Ave. 50 & Figueroa. This year’s theme is “People Helping People.” Sponsored by the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce. For more information, email HighlandParkChamber @gmail.com or call (323) 256-3151.

The 81st Annual Virgin of Guadalupe Procession and Mass will be held on Dec. 2 starting at 11am at the corner of Cesar Chavez Ave & Ford Blvd. In East Los Angeles. Thousands of Catholic faithful from diverse ethnic communities are expected to participate. Following the procession, a mass will be held at the stadium of East Los Angeles College. For more information, call Resurrection Church at (323) 268-1141.

LAPD Pide Ayuda del Público para Localizar Víctima y Agresor de un Posible Secuestro en El Sereno

November 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Detectives del Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles (LAPD) han liberado dos dibujos que esperan les ayudaran conseguir información acerca de una mujer que fue golpeada en el rostro por un hombre que luego la arrastró del pelo por una colina en El Sereno.

Dibujos cortesía de LAPD

Más de 250 investigadores, entre ellos policías montados a caballo, recorrieron un área de más de 450 hectáreas alrededor de la cuadra 4900 de la calle Klamath, el lunes por la noche y de nuevo el martes. Las llamadas a la policía empezaron a las 7:52 p.m. del lunes, dijo el agente Bruce Borihanh, un portavoz del LAPD.

El incidente parecía ser una combinación de asalto y secuestro, dijo el Teniente Antonio Zamora de la Estación Policíaca Hollenbeck.

“… Parece que la joven estaba siendo (arrastrada) por la colina y, posiblemente, estaba siendo golpeada en la cara, con puñetazos en la cara,” Zamora dijo durante una rueda de prensa el martes.

El Comandante Andy Smith, un portavoz de LAPD, dijo que se cree que la presunta víctima es hispana, una adolescente entre las edades de 13 a 16 años o una mujer pequeña. El supuesto asaltante es descrito como un hispano delgado entre las edades de 18 y 20 años que mide seis pies de altura y pesa aproximadamente 150 libras.

Borihanh dijo que los equipos de búsqueda encontraron unas medias y zapatos cerca del lugar del incidente, pero no hay informes de una persona desaparecida que coincidía con la descripción de la supuesta víctima. Los investigadores piden más pistas.

La policía insta a cualquier persona con información, que llame 1-877-LAPD-24-7.

Deadline Approaching for 2011 Storm Damage Property Owners

November 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles County Office of the Assessor is advising property owners who may have been affected by the 2011 wind storms that the deadline to submit a misfortune/calamity form is Nov.30.  Property owners could receive potential tax relief if related damage amounts to $10,000 or more, including destruction to chimneys or structures by falling trees or branches.

Photographs and any other documentation, such as repair estimates, should accompany the form. For more information, call the Office of the Assessor’s main office at (213) 974-8658. Misfortune/calamity forms are available on the assessor’s internet website at http://assessor.lacounty.gov for property owners to fill in, print and then submit by mail.

Alhambra Police Looking for Scam Victims

November 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Alhambra police Tuesday asked for people who may have been victimized by a man who was arrested on suspicion of grand theft in a scheme bilking victims out of their bank funds.

Kevin Hu was arrested at his home in Alhambra on Oct. 16, according to Sgt. Gerry Johnson of the Alhambra Police Department.

According to Johnson, Hu used a ruse to obtain the victim’s bank account information while allegedly discussing an employment opportunity. He would make it appear that he had deposited money into the victim’s account. The victim was then told to withdraw the cash and give to Hu. Later, the deposits were found to be fraudulent.

Hu met his victims via newspaper and Internet ads and at coffeehouses throughout the San Gabriel Valley. Alhambra police detectives believe there are other victims.

Anyone who may have been victimized by Hu was asked to call Detective John Lee of the Alhambra Police Department at (626) 570-5158.

Freight Train and Big Rig Crash In Montebello

November 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A Union Pacific Railroad freight train struck a big rig Tuesday in Montebello, causing no injuries but slightly delaying some Metrolink trains on the Riverside line, authorities said. The accident was reported about 6 a.m. at Vail Avenue, the Montebello Police Department reported. The big rig was hauling frozen food, police said. The circumstances of the crash were under investigation. Scott Johnson of Metrolink said slight delays were reported on the Riverside line, with passengers being bused between the Montebello/Commerce Metrolink station and downtown Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

In Wake of Noguez Probe, Supervisors Ban Political Contributions to Assessor

November 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday adopted an ordinance that prohibits tax agents from making financial contributions to candidates running for county assessor — a ban prompted by the arrest of Assessor John Noguez in a corruption probe.

Noguez, arrested Oct. 17, remains jailed in lieu of $1.16 million bail. He is charged — along with tax consultant Ramin Salari and principal assessor Mark McNeil — with multiple felony counts in a case involving allegations that property tax agents slashed assessments for owners who gave money to Noguez’s successful 2010 campaign for county assessor.

The assessor is charged with two dozen felony counts, including 13 counts of misappropriation of public funds, five counts of perjury, four counts of accepting bribes and two counts of conspiracy. All three men have pleaded not guilty.

County lawyers originally feared that an outright ban on contributions from tax agents — recommended by Supervisor Don Knabe — might spur legal challenges based on a free speech argument, although county law already prohibits lobbyists from giving money to people running for public office.

County Counsel John Krattli said the amendment to the Los Angeles County Campaign Finance Ordinance has been “narrowly tailored and focused to address the corruption issues that have been alleged in (the assessor’s) office” to avoid such a challenge. Assembly Bill 404, which sought to impose similar restrictions statewide, failed in the state Senate.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt the measure, which will take effect within 30 days.

County lawyers are also considering a requirement that tax agents pay to register with the county and provide annual and quarterly reports on the clients they represent and political gifts made to any county elected officials.

Without an enforcement mechanism, Krattli has said the campaign finance ordinance would do little to improve transparency. Attorneys are still working out the details of any registration requirement, he said.

Krattli — who estimated that there are at least 1,275 tax agents in the county — has suggested that county computers be programmed to track tax agent contributions — information already reported under existing campaign finance laws.

Monterey Park Residents Suggest Ways to Improve Community

November 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The City of Monterey Park put together a community workshop last week where residents voiced their opinions on ways the city can improve health and sustainability. The workshop was part of the city’s goal to add the two topics to its long-range General Plan.

Miguel Olivares, left, discusses with his group ways that Monterey Park can have clean air. The city put together the workshop so community members could give feedback on health and sustainability. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

RBF Consulting was hired to develop the two new chapters for the city. The health element hopes to address issues such as access to healthy food, opportunities for physical activities and safety, while the sustainable element would address ways Monterey Park could reduce its use of natural resources by modifying their environment through transportation, energy, resource conservation and land development.

Michelle Lieberman, a senior consultant at RBF led the workshop and said she was happy with the community turnout.

“…We had a range of community members,” Lieberman said. “It was really good to see the diversity.”

Thomas Wong, a city environmental commissioner, said he too was encouraged by the turnout of community members, which ranged from teenagers to senior citizens.

“That’s why meetings and events like these are very important, so the community really has a chance to give feedback,” said Wong.

California requires cities to prepare a general plan, which then serves as a framework for the city’s long-term development. Monterey Park’s current plan, which runs through 2020, includes a commitment to enhance the physical, economic and human resources of the city. According to the city’s website, the current elements of the general plan include land use, economic development, circulation, housing, safety and community services and resources.

Monterey Park was recently awarded a state grant with the purpose of adding a healthy community element and a sustainable community element to its plan.

Last week’s workshop was one of the ways the city plans to interact with the community to develop those new elements.

“Health and sustainability are so broad that hearing those priorities come out in the workshop was good,” Lieberman said. “ We definitely got some direction in terms of those topics.”

During the discussion, residents and community members brought up issues related to water conservation, renewable energy, nutrition and mobility in the city.

“I was really encouraged to hear people talk about water. More and more people are understanding that we need to save more but [residents] need our help to do that,” said Wong.

ELAC student Jennifer Cao attended the event and said this is one of the ways the issue of clean air can be brought up in Monterey Park.

“If we can address one issue, we can then begin to address other issues that go along with it,” said Cao.

Miguel Olivares also thinks clean air is an important issue to discuss. He works in the city as an outreach specialist for the Glendale Adventist Medical Center, and brought up the idea of having smoke-free environments.

“I’m interested in all things health-related,” Olivares said. “One of our missions is to improve the heath of the community.”

Lieberman said the topics they discussed at the workshop would be considered when they start drafting the new elements for the general plan. Once the elements are drafted, the city council will decide whether to add them to the Monterey Park General Plan.

“We’re going to start looking at drafting a vision for a healthy and sustainable Monterey Park,” said Lierbeman.

The city will hold more community outreach events after the holiday season.

For more information about Monterey Park’s General Plan and the health and sustainable elements under consideration, call the City’s Planning Division at (626) 307-1315.

Group Launches Campaign to Keep Mexico’s Current Consul In L.A.

November 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

While many if not most Angelenos have given little thought to the results of Mexico’s election last July, a group of local leaders and activists announced last week that they have launched a campaign to keep David Figueroa Ortega, the current Consul General of Mexico, in Los Angeles after Mexico’s new president takes office in December.

On Nov. 9, board members of the Mexican Cultural Institute of Los Angeles (MCI), located at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument/ Olvera Street, and other organizations sent a letter to President-Elect Enrique Peña Nieto and his transition team, “respectfully” asking that he consider allowing Figueroa to remain in his post in Los Angeles under the new administration.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Lanzan Campaña para Preservar el Cónsul Actual de México en Los Ángeles

Outgoing President Felipe Calderón appointed Figueroa to the position in March 2011; Mexican presidents only serve one 6-year term in office and typically, all political appointments end when the appointing president leaves office.

The group praises Figueroa’s performance in their letter to Mexico’s next president.

“As Mexican activists and leaders for decades in this metropolis, we make this petition because we believe that Consul Figueroa would be a great resource to management in this city, the second Mexican capital, and because his work during the nearly two years has been impressive,” the letter, written in Spanish, states.

The letter was signed by MCI’s Executive Director Abelardo de la Peña Jr., Artistic Director José Antonio Aguirre and Program Director Margarita Medina, and California-Mexico Project Director and CSULB Chicano & Latino Studies Dept. Professor Armando Vazquez-Ramos, Consortium of Physicians from Latin America Executive Director Rolando Castillo, and Binational Union of Ex-Braceros President Baldemero Capiz.

“In a short time, the tireless Consul Figueroa has earned the appreciation and the support of our community for his dedication, commitment to the needs of Mexicans and his transparency. Therefore, we believe that removing him would reverse his achievements, stop the pace of activities that have marked his leadership and endanger projects he has driven,” the letter also states.

In conclusion, the activist state that the letter marks the start of their campaign to support Figueroa. Because Mexicans in Los Angeles makeup more than half of the city’s entire population, they anticipate many more organizations, political leaders and Mexican nationals will join them in supporting Figueroa.

The previous Mexican Consul General in Los Angeles was Juan Marcos Gutierrez Gonzalez, who left the post when he was promoted to Acting Interior Minister of Mexico. The post was occupied for six months by Juan Carlos Mendoza.

Mexican President-Elect Enrique Peña Nieto takes office on Dec. 1.

Clothing Chain Retailers Moves Headquarters to Lincoln Heights

November 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Clothing chain giant Forever 21 held a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday at its new headquarters in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Lincoln Heights.

1. Don Chang, Founder and CEO, Forever 21, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilmember Ed P. Reyes cut yellow ribbon in celebration of new Forever 21 headquarters in Lincoln Heights. (Courtesy of the Office of Councilman Ed Reyes)

The local councilman, Ed P. Reyes and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, along with hundreds of Forever 21 employees and executives, attended the ceremony.

The facility will help Forever 21 retain over 1,800 jobs and could allow the company to grow by hundreds more, according to a press statement from Councilman Reyes’ office.

“Bringing Forever 21’s new headquarters to our community is fantastic news for the continuing economic recovery,” said Reyes.

The apparel company was founded in Los Angeles by Korean immigrants Don Chang and Jin Sook Chang, who first opened their 900 square-foot store in 1984. Forever 21 is one of the world’s fastest growing companies with 500 stores in 15 countries. The new 1.8 million facility, on the 3800 block of North Mission Road in Lincoln Heights, includes the company’s headquarters, distribution, logistics, e-commerce, merchandising, and warehouse space.

“Today, we celebrate 1.8 million square-feet of a Los Angeles success story,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “I’m proud that my office was able to make Forever 21’s expansion process easier by cutting red tape.”

“In the last three years, Forever 21 has seen extraordinary growth opening over 175 stores in over 15 countries,” said Don Chang, Forever 21 Founder and CEO. He said the facility in Lincoln Heights “enabled us to bring all of our Corporate and Distribution Center employees together under one roof.”

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