Vernon Supports AQMD’s Stricter Lead-Arsenic Emission Standards

November 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The Vernon City Council on Tuesday approved a letter to the South Coast Air Quality Management supporting a proposed rule that would set lead and arsenic emission standards for battery recycling facilities.

The letter, signed by Mayor W. Michel McCormick, states the city’s support for the “improved emission reduction requirements” found in the proposed amendment to Rule (PAR) 1420.1, which if approved would affect Exide Technologies, a lead-acid battery recycling facility in Vernon.

The letter comes in light of AQMD’s decision to reject Exide’s health risk reduction plan, which it was required to submit when it was found that the facility’s lead and arsenic emissions had repeatedly violated safety standards and posed a health risk to more than 250,000 residents in Southeast communities.

As previously reported by EGP, the AQMD on Oct. 18 filed a petition with its Hearing Board to shut down the facility’s lead smelting operations. Last week, the agency announced a series of pre-hearing conferences will be held starting Dec. 14 at a site still to be determined, but in an area near Exide’s plant in Vernon. The hearings are open to the public.

In his letter to the AQMD, McCormick said he wants to “ensure that everything possible is being done by [AQMD] to protect the health and safety of our residents.”

PAR 1420.1 would implement stricter air emission standards for large lead-acid battery recycling facilities. Currently, Exide Technologies in Vernon and Quemetco Inc. in the City of Industry are the only two facilities that would be subject to the new rules.

“PAR 1420.1 would further protect public health by addressing arsenic, benzene and 1.3-butadiene emissions which are the primary contributors to the elevated health risks,” states AQMD’s staff report on the proposed rule.

McCormick asked city staff if they believe Exide could meet and maintain the proposed stricter standards.

Vernon’s health and environmental director, Leonard Grossberg, said he believes the standards are achievable with the use of the latest technologies.

“I believe that Exide is eager to meet those objectives,” Grossberg said.

McCormick’s  letter also urges the agency to use the best technology to accurately monitor and record emissions from Exide.

“Prior to this year there were no standards for arsenic emissions, that was one of the downfalls that AQMD had,” Grossberg said. “Rule 1401.1 is now establishing new standards for not only lead but arsenics.”

In addition, as part of the approval, staff was directed to invite members from the LA County Department of Public Health to an upcoming council meeting to discuss how lead blood testing — to determine if people living or working close to Exide’s proximity have elevated levels of lead in their bloodstream — will be conducted by the County.

Grossberg said the city is coordinating with its police and fire departments to offer those locations as possible testing sites.

During the meeting, city staff also introduced a new section on the city’s website dedicated to Exide Updates from Vernon’s health department, AQMD and DTSC, the state Department of Toxic Substance Control. The webpage will allow users to access documents related to Exide and to contact the city’s health department with any questions or comments.

“The rationale behind an Exide update webpage, is an outgrowth from the amount of contact we received from residents and workers who want to know what the city of Vernon is doing, or has done,” said Vernon Spokesman Fred MacFarlane.

AQMD is scheduled to meet next month to decide if they want to move forward with the new emission standards.

If enacted the rule would go into affect January 2014 and require the two facilities to be full compliance by January 2015.

Calls for Sen. Calderon’s Resignation Spread

November 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raid on Sen. Ron Calderon’s offices last summer may have been the tip of the iceberg of an unfolding corruption and bribery scandal. A complete picture of the investigation—which may implicate other elected officials—is still evolving, with more revelations likely to surface.

Now, a freshman assemblywoman who represents some of the same Southeast L.A. County communities as Calderon, and others, is calling for Calderon’s immediate resignation.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia on Monday was the first to call for Sen. Calderon to resign.

“As the unsealed FBI affidavit and subsequent news reports have revealed a legal whirlwind surrounding Senator Ron Calderon, I must speak out.  It is with mixed feelings, but with strong conviction that today I ask Senator Calderon to step down from his office to allow this black cloud to be removed from over the Capitol and over the State of California,” Garcia said in a written statement.

She goes on to say that Calderon’s innocence is presumed, but the controversy is causing a distraction that undermines the relationship between the government and the residents Calderon represents.

She was joined this week by The Los Angeles Daily News, political blog CityWatch LA and others who also called for Calderon’s resignation, saying the nature of the bribery and pay to play accusations spelled out in the FBI affidavit and a television report by Al Jazeera America that aired last week, undermine democracy, even if Calderon has yet to be charged with breaking the law.

State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg removed Sen. Calderon from the California Film Commission following the Al Jazeera America report.

Calderon, the youngest of three brothers who have all held state elected office and whose family is often referred to as political dynasty, is accused of accepting bribes for influencing legislation to benefit those who made payments to him and his family, according to the FBI affidavit acquired by Al Jazeera America, a news channel in the U.S.

In June, raids on Sen. Calderon’s offices were seemingly tied to an investigation of local water agencies and a lucrative contract that appeared to benefit his brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon.

The 124-page FBI affidavit was used to obtain the search warrant for the raid in June, according to Al Jazeera America.

The affidavit implicates Sen. Calderon in receiving bribes and gifts—for himself and members of his family—from an FBI agent who posed as a Hollywood movie executive, and from a hospital executive who allegedly over billed the State Compensation Insurance Fund.

The affidavit also says Calderon aided the owner of a Long Beach-based spinal surgery hospital that received inflated workers compensation payments in return for monetary compensation made to his brother, Tom and his son Zachary. In return, he fought in the legislature to ensure laws would not hurt the spinal surgery business, according to the news report.

Similarly, the undercover FBI agent in the sting operation who posed as a movie studio executive, asked Calderon to use his influence to help him get tax breaks, and paid him thousands of dollars and gave him lavish gifts in return for his support. Calderon’s children, son Zachery and daughter Jessica, were also named in the affidavit as receiving money through the alleged deal Calderon struck with the undercover agent.

In addition, Californians for Diversity, a nonprofit connected to the California Latino Caucus that was run by Tom Calderon, was allegedly used as the Calderons personal “slush fund,” where money was funneled through, according to the Al Jazeera America report.

An unnamed “Los Angeles Councilman” in the affidavit has also caused some speculation, with residents and local officials wondering when the identity will be revealed and how he or she played a part in the alleged wrongdoings.

Last week, Councilman Jose Huizar spokesperson Rick Coca said the councilman’s office was contacted last year by a man they now presume to be the same undercover FBI agent in the Al Jazeera report and the FBI affidavit. He told the Los Angeles Daily News that the man, referred by Calderon’s office, inquired about business space in the councilman’s district. A member of Huizar’s staff met with the man, gave him the information he requested, but never heard from him again.

Calderon spokesperson Mario Beltran, told EGP that the senator’s office is not issuing any comment.

However, Mark Geragos, Sen. Calderon’s attorney, told the Los Angeles Times, “My guess is it is fabricated and untrue.” He also said the only illegal act committed was by whoever leaked the suppossed sealed affidavit and the organization who released it.

Calderon, who resides in Montebello, represents many southeast LA County cities, including Bell Gardens, Montebello, Pico Rivera and other predominantly Latino communities.

L.A. Council Wants Street Vending Legalized

November 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Two Los Angeles City Council members said Wednesday they want to legalize the sale of food and wares on Los Angeles sidewalks.

Vendors pushing carts selling hot dogs, tacos and other food items are a common sight throughout the city, but the activity is technically illegal, with many being cited and sometimes arrested.

“Los Angeles has a world-class street food culture, but we sometimes like to pretend it doesn’t exist,” Councilman Jose Huizar said, noting that some streetside edible offerings have even attracted the attention of food critics.

Huizar took part in a City Hall rally organized with the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign, a coalition of groups advocating the legalization of street vending of food and other merchandise.

A motion introduced Wednesday by Huizar and fellow Councilman Curren Price would direct city officials to report back in 90 days on a system to allow vendors that sell food and non-food merchandise to do so legally.

The motion does not address food trucks, which are regulated by the county, said Huizar spokesman Rick Coca.

The motion was referred to the City Council’s Economic Development and the Public Works and Gang Reduction committees.

Street vending has a strong presence not only in his South Los Angeles district, but also citywide, and is a “primary source of income for many people,” Price said.

Legalizing street vending would be “good for micro-enterprises and for the local economy,” and would also “ensure that the goods meet public health and safety standards,” he said.

The status of street vendors has been much-debated at the county level, with operators of brick-and-mortar businesses contending that street vendors pose safety and health hazards. Street vendors also have an unfair advantage because they do not have to deal with the expense of paying rent for storefronts, the businesses say.

Huizar said the legalization of street vending in other major cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago demonstrate street vendors can co-exist with brick-and-mortar businesses.

Some of the regulations being considered include creating a buffer between vendors and storefronts, he said, while some businesses may find they want to supplement their own operation by incorporating street vending.

It’s A Classic Bulldog ‘4-Peat’

November 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Garfield High School seniors ran around the field holding up the four fingers on their hands yelling “4-peat” as the Bulldogs celebrated their fourth consecutive victory over archrival Roosevelt in the 79th East Los Angeles Classic.

Seniors TyJon Delancy and Eri Velasquez led Garfield to the 22-6 win by combining for three touchdowns before an estimated 15,000 Friday at East Los Angeles College.

Delancy, who rushed for 119 yards, scored on short runs to help the Bulldogs to a 12-0 lead in the third quarter and Velasquez sealed the victory scoring on an interception return in the fourth.

Garfield High School quarterback Ausencio Navarro leaps for a gain in last Friday’s 79th East Los Angeles Classic. Garfield defeated Roosevelt, 22-6. (EGP photo by Mario Villegas)

Garfield High School quarterback Ausencio Navarro leaps for a gain in last Friday’s 79th East Los Angeles Classic. Garfield defeated Roosevelt, 22-6. (EGP photo by Mario Villegas)

With the victory, Garfield (6-3 overall) won at least a share of the Eastern League title by staying unbeaten (5-0 in league) and can win it outright with a win against Jordan (0-9) Friday night at home. Roosevelt is 7-2 overall and 3-2 in league, and is City Section playoff bound.

Despite losing four straight, the Rough Riders still hold the lead in the all-time series, 39-34-6.

Roosevelt, led by brothers quarterback David Arriaga and running back Daniel Arriaga, outgained Garfield in total yardage, 320-228, and drove deep into Bulldog territory twice in the first quarter, but failed to score.

After forcing the Rough Riders to lose the ball on downs, Garfield went 81 yards with Delancy gaining the last three on his first touchdown run to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead two minutes into the second quarter. It was the only score of the first half.

The key play of the drive was aided by a 15-yard penalty after Garfield’s Franklin Robles picked up 36 yards after catching a pass from quarterback Ausencio Navarro.

Delancy scored from a yard out to cap a 45-yard drive and extend the lead to 12-0 with 5:52 left in the third quarter. Navarro’s 13-yard pass to Isiah Vaughn keyed the drive.

Roosevelt responded with a 65-yard scoring drive with Daniel Arriaga rushing for gains of 31 and 10 yards to set up David Arriaga’s 1-yard run with 1:42 left in the third.

But the Rough Riders’ onside kick attempt was unsuccessful giving Garfield possession at the Roosevelt 39 yard line. The Bulldogs took advantage of the short field to set up Aaron Rocha’s 22-yard field goal to increase their lead to 15-6.

David Arriaga’s bid to rally his team back was dashed when Velasquez snatched one of his passes and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown with 5:14 remaining. Velasquez gave credit for the play to his cousin, defensive end Emiliano Aguiar, who converged on Arriaga as the ball left his hand.

“I was rushing from the outside and my cousin (Aguiar) was putting pressure on him as he was going to throw,” Velasquez said in describing his first high school interception and first touchdown. “I saw the ball, put my hands on it and started running with it.”

Delancy carried the ball 26 times and found the running a little harder.

“I was expecting to come in here and run right over them, but I had kind of a hard time because of the way they were filling the gaps,” Delancy said. “I have to give credit to number 30 (linebacker Chris Campos). He was doing his stuff.”

Garfield Coach Lorenzo Hernandez agreed.

“In some aspects, we struggled offensively, but Roosevelt had something to do with that,” he said. “I thought we did a good job defensively and the credit for that goes to our defensive coordinator Steve Wicks.”

The Arriagas have led an explosive Roosevelt offense all season and they put up good numbers. David Arriaga rushed for 128 yards and Daniel Arriaga had 109 on 14 carries, with three receptions for 18 yards.

“We were our own worst enemies a lot of the time,” Roosevelt Coach Javier Cid said. “We just had problems executing at times.”

Montebello Mayor’s Husband Charged With Selling Meth

November 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The husband of Montebello’s mayor is scheduled to be arraigned today on a half-dozen felony drug-related charges, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Mayor Christina Cortez’ husband, Ruben Guerrero, 44, is scheduled is facing three counts each of possession for sale of methamphetamine and sale or transportation of methamphetamine.

The criminal complaint alleges that the crimes occurred Sept. 26, Oct. 2 and Oct. 15.

One of the counts includes an allegation that the alleged crime on Oct 2 occurred within 1,000 feet of Montebello Intermediate School.

Guerrero was arrested Oct. 17 as he left his home and freed later that day on $60,000 bail. Prosecutors will ask that his bail be set at $120,000.

He is accused of selling methamphetamine more than once to an undercover sheriff’s detective, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The alleged transactions were audio and video recorded by sheriff’s investigators, according to the sheriff’s department.

If convicted, Guerrero faces up to 11 years in state prison, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Cortez told the Los Angeles Times the day of her husband’s arrest that it left her “disappointed and shocked.”

“I would urge everyone and the public to let this investigation take its course. As a mother, as a daughter and as an elected official, I have supported the education of understanding the dangers of drugs. Today’s events will not change that,” the mayor said Oct. 17.

Obama Insiste en Aprobar Reforma Migratoria Antes de Fin de Año

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El presidente, Barack Obama, insistió el martes en la importancia de una “rápida” aprobación de la reforma migratoria y afirmó que “no hay razón para que no se logre antes de final de año”, al recibir a un grupo de líderes empresariales en la Casa Blanca.

“Esto es algo que tiene un fuerte apoyo bipartidista. Tengan en cuenta que mi predecesor George W. Bush fue un gran defensor (de la idea). Tenemos un fascinante conjunto de gente, algunos muy liberales, otros muy conservadores, que creen que ahora es el momento para hacerlo”, subrayó Obama, quien señaló poco después de ser reelegido que la reforma migratoria sería una de las prioridades de su segundo mandato.

Por ello, indicó el mandatario, “no hay razón por la que no podamos hacer esto antes de fin de año”.

Obama, quien estuvo acompañado por el vicepresidente Joe Biden, se reunió con los principales ejecutivos de empresas como Lockheed Martin, Marriott, Motorola y McDonalds. El presidente remarcó las ventajas económicas de poner en adelante la reforma migratoria, ya que significaría que los “negocios tendrían más clientes” y los inmigrantes indocumentados tendrían la posibilidad de “salir de las sombras”.

La Casa Blanca ha indicado que varios informes independientes calculan que la aprobación de esta reforma permitiría elevar el crecimiento económico en $1.4 billones y reducir el déficit en $850.000 millones en las próximas dos décadas.

Una propuesta bipartidista de reforma migratoria fue aprobada en junio pasado por el Senado, de mayoría demócrata, y se encuentra ahora en espera de que la Cámara de Representantes, controlada por los republicanos, presente su plan.

Obama reconoció que ahora mismo hay “algo de resistencia” por parte de los republicanos en la Cámara, pero calificó de “alentador” que un número de legisladores opositores hayan dicho que es lo adecuado.

El mandatario se refería a los anuncios de la semana pasada por parte de dos legisladores republicanos, la congresista por Florida de origen cubano Ileana Ros-Lehtinen y su compañero por California Jeff Denham, quienes expresaron su apoyo a la propuesta de reforma presentada por los demócratas en la cámara baja.

El plan del Senado contempla millonarias inversiones para mejorar la seguridad en la frontera con México y abrir una vía a la ciudadanía para más de 11 millones de indocumentados que se calcula viven en Estados Unidos.

 

Infant Acetaminophen Recall Issued

November 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A company that produces and sells an acetaminophen product for infants under numerous brand names, this week issued a “voluntary recall” of the products due to the possibility that some of the packages sold might have an oral dosing syringe without dose markings.

The Perrigo Company is recalling 18 batches of its acetaminophen infant suspension liquid, 160 mg/5 mL, sold in 2 oz. and 4 oz. bottles with syringes in a box under the following store brand names sold in California: Babies R Us, Equaline, Equate, Kroger, Walgreen and Rite Aid. Other brand names can be found on the FDA website: www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm

In a press release, the company stated that oral dosing devices with dose markings are safe to use following label instructions. Consumers whose purchased oral dosing devices without dose markings, should not use the product and call Perrigo’s Consumer Affairs Department, toll free, 1-800-719-9260.

Suspect in Critical Condition After Boyle Heights Shooting

November 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

 A suspect known to police as a gang member was shot and remained in critical condition Monday morning from wounds suffered in an officer-involved shooting in Boyle Heights, police officials said.

The shooting at about 9:45 p.m. Sunday at 4th and Soto streets, according to Los Angeles police Sgt. Michael Morisseau.

“The officers are fine, the suspect was conscious and breathing when transported to the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds and a weapon was recovered at the scene,” Morisseau said.

The shooting was during a foot pursuit, LAPD Officer Norma Eisenman said.

The shooting was possibly gang-related, Eisenman said.

Two Women Killed in 110 Freeway Crash

November 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Two women died and three other women were seriously injured when a car hit a chain-link fence and a tree on the Pasadena (110) Freeway early Sunday morning, officials said.

Five women were in the 2011 Nissan Sentra that crashed while on the northbound Pasadena Freeway at Avenue 52 at about 1:30 a.m., said Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Katherine Main.

Firefighters performed a physical rescue to remove the women from the car, and three were transported to hospitals, Main said.

Two passengers, a 22-year-old Ana Cuadra and a 23-year-old Blanca Belman, died at the scene.

The driver, a 23-year-old San Gabriel woman, was transported to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in serious condition, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Paramedics also rushed two 23-year-old women to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena in serious condition, according to the CHP.

The CHP issued a SigAlert closing the northbound freeway at Avenue 43 for the rescue and investigation, said Officer Alex Rubio in the Traffic Management Center.

The freeway reopened shortly after 5:30 a.m.

Concejales de Los Ángeles Quieren Legalizar las Ventas Ambulantes

November 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Dos concejales de Los Ángeles quieren legalizar el comercio de vendedores ambulantes en las calles de Los Ángeles. Es común ver en la ciudad a vendedores que tienen sus carritos de hot dogs, tacos y otros productos pero técnicamente su actividad es ilegal, la cual lleva a que muchos sean multados y algunas veces arrestados.

“Los Ángeles tiene una cultura de comida callejera de clase mundial, pero algunas veces actuamos como que si no existe”, dijo el congresista José Huizar, recalcando que incluso algunos productos comestibles han atraído la atención de críticos de la comida.

Huizar fue parte de una protesta que se llevó a cabo afuera del ayuntamiento de Los Ángeles por parte de la Campaña de Vendedores Ambulantes, una coalición de grupos que abogan por la legalización de la venta de comida callejera y otros productos. La propuesta presentada el miércoles por Huizar y su colega Curren Price permitirá a los oficiales de la ciudad que respondan en 90 días a un sistema que permita a los vendedores ambulantes hacer sus ventas de comida y otros productos legalmente.

La propuesta no incluye a las loncheras o food trucks, las cuales son reguladas por el condado, dijo Rick Coca, portavoz de Huizar. La propuesta fue referida a los comités de Desarrollo Económico y de Trabajo Publico y Reducción de Pandillas del ayuntamiento.

Los vendedores ambulantes tienen una presencia grande no solo en el distrito del Sur de Los Ángeles, pero por toda la ciudad y es una “fuente principal de ingresos para mucha gente”,  dijo Price. Legalizar las ventas ambulantes sería “bueno para micro-empresas y para la economía local”, y también “se aseguraría que los productos cumplan con los estándares de salud y seguridad”, explicó.

La condición de los vendedores ambulantes está en debate a nivel del condado, con dueños de negocios tradicionales quienes afirman que los vendedores ambulantes poseen riesgos de salud y seguridad. Los vendedores ambulantes también tienen una ventaja injusta porque ellos no tienen que lidiar con gastos de renta en un negocio estable, dicen los dueños de negocios.

Huizar dijo que la legalización de ventas ambulantes en otras ciudades como Nueva York, San Francisco y Chicago demuestran que los vendedores ambulantes pueden coexistir con los negocios tradicionales.

Algunas de las regulaciones que se consideran incluyen crear espacios entre los vendedores y los negocios, y posiblemente algunos negocios puedan considerar el agregar a sus operaciones sus propias ventas ambulantes, dijo Huizar.

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