Who Will Reach Out to Vets After Veterans Day?

November 8, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Sunday November 11, 2012,the nation will observe Veterans Day. Communities across the county will honor local veterans, and recognize the sacrifices they have made for their country.

The problem is that on Monday, November 12, many veterans will still be denied needed health care, many will still be homeless and jobless, something a grateful nation should not tolerate.

Many will say that veterans today volunteered to serve and knew what they were in for. We believe they volunteered with the understanding that their country would not abandon them to fend for themselves upon their return, which is not something a grateful nation should do.

It would be wonderful if members of the community would contact the various veterans’ organizations in their area and offer to provide whatever assistance they can to veterans in their neighborhoods.

Government and community groups need to develop lifelines, not only for the veterans, but also for their families. Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan will soon be returning home in much greater numbers, and their families, and we as a community, need to be prepared to help them make a smooth transition back into their homes and neighborhoods.

Social Security: It Ain’t Broke

November 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Social Security is more popular than sliced bread. And it should be. Our Social Security system is the foundation of our families’ security: We work hard and pay into it with every paycheck so each of us can retire with dignity.

Social Security is a basic part of what makes America run, like our national highway system. And with pensions vanishing, it’s more important now than ever. Without Social Security, nearly half of elderly Americans would live below the official poverty level.

Social Security doesn’t add a single penny to the deficit and never has. And it ain’t broke. The good news is that Americans can count on our Social Security system for decades to come. There’s already a massive trust fund with a growing $2.7 trillion surplus in the safest investments in the world.

Keeping Social Security strong into the next century is simple: Close the tax loopholes that make middle-class Americans pay at a higher rate than millionaires do. Under current law, workers making a middle-class income pay a portion of their income into Social Security at a much higher rate than the richest of us. Instead, we can have every worker pay the same rate.

Yes, people are living longer. Isn’t that good news? Let’s make sure that we have decent retirement income. Given the extreme market volatility that’s grown routine, Americans clearly can’t count on stocks or real estate to guarantee our retirement. Americans should save for retirement, in addition to relying on our Social Security benefits. Average Social Security earnings are only $14,000 per year, which still provides two-thirds of income for a typical senior and more than 90 percent of the income for a third of seniors.

Polls, including surveys dating back six decades, consistently show that an overwhelming majority of Americans strongly supports Social Security. And yes, it’s a government program. If you think you don’t like the government and you like Social Security, then think again.

Elizabeth Rose is the communications director for the Campaign for America’s Future, which promotes progressive policies. www.ourfuture.org . Distributed via OtherWords.org.


We Owe Our Veterans Compassion and Gratitude Co

November 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Here in the United States of America, we have what is known as “Citizen Soldiers.” Our citizen soldiers are ordinary people who do extraordinary things. They are from all walks of life and they all have sacrificed something so that we can enjoy the freedoms we enjoy.

Because of their sacrifices, we should all endeavor to serve our veterans as well as they have served their nation. Sometimes all that is needed is a simple thank you directed at the veteran or the family member for his or her sacrifice. Sometimes there is much more that is needed to honor our veterans and their families.

It starts with compassion. Many of our veterans are unemployed or underemployed. A large portion of the homeless are veterans. It is tragic that the men and women who allow us to be safe in our homes are often without homes themselves when they shed their uniforms.  Many of our veterans suffer from PTSD and other mental dysfunctions. The veteran’s hospitals are filled with disabled veterans that were wounded or suffer from illnesses. Our compassion should compel us to make sure that services to our veterans are fully funded.

We must not forget the unique needs of women veterans. There are more than 1.2 million women in American today who have served in our military. Women are major contributors to our military presence in Afghanistan and many have given their lives in the Global War on Terrorism. Our female veterans have special needs, adequate breast and cervical cancer treatments have to be provided. Their special needs include providing help and support for traumas resulting from domestic violence, sexual harassment and assaults.

While fewer than 10 percent of Americans can claim the honorable title “U.S. military veteran,” this special group often provides the vital services that enable our communities to function.

Chances are that if you surveyed your local police or fire department, you would find that a disproportionately high amount of its members are veterans. When an emergency hits, there is a good chance that it is a veteran that is first to respond.

Whether it’s a school teacher, construction worker or first responder, military veterans take their missions seriously.

In 1798, George Washington said, “ The willingness with which our young people will fight in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their country.”

Born of their extraordinary accomplishments comes our extraordinary debt. And for those accomplishments and for their dedication, we must always be grateful.

God bless our veterans and God bless America.

Mark Overstreet is a Naval Veteran and member of the American Legion.

Monumento Conmemorativo a los Veteranos México-Americanos Saqueado por Ladrones en el Este de Los Ángeles

November 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Un monumento en el Este de Los Ángeles dedicado a los veteranos México-Americanos ha caído víctima al vandalismo, tres placas fueron robados de dos monumentos ubicados en Cinco Puntos, una intersección en Boyle Heights. Una cuarta placa fue dañada, pero no fue removida.

La policía está investigando el hecho como delitos de robo mayor y vandalismo.

Read this story IN ENGLISH: Mexican American Veterans’ Memorial In East L.A. Vandalized

Los veteranos del Poste 804 Legionarios Americanos Eugene E. Obregón, que atienden a la comunidad de Boyle Heights y el Este de Los Ángeles, fueron unos de los primeros en darse cuenta que las placas están desaparecidas, pero no saben cuando el crimen pudo haber ocurrido.

Las tres placas robadas eran compuestas de una combinación de bronce y cobre, una mide aproximadamente 22 pulgadas por 36 pulgadas, las otras dos eran de 19 pulgadas por 23 pulgadas, según la policía. Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo

Tony Zapata, comandante de los Veteranos de las Guerras Extranjeras (VFW) 4696, sospecha que el crimen ocurrió durante la última semana de octubre, cuando él estaba fuera de la ciudad.

El lunes, Zapata presentó una denuncia sobre el robo a la Estación de LAPD De León Hollenbeck.

“Lo que realmente me molesta es que han estado allí desde 1947, y no tienen ningún valor para nadie excepto nosotros los veteranos”, dijo el veterano de la Guerra de Vietnam y residente de Boyle Heights. “No sé qué día ocurrió, probablemente ya están derretidos”, él dijo, especulando que fueron robados y vendido como chatarra.

Los trabajadores y los residentes del área dijeron a EGP que las placas podrían tener hasta tres semanas desaparecidas. Una mujer dijo que ella vio las placas en el suelo mientras que trabajadores de mantenimiento cortaban el césped, pero ella pensó que eran empleados de la ciudad y que las placas serían limpiadas e instaladas de nuevo.

Las tres placas parecen haber sido quitadas en un solo intento, de acuerdo con el Detective Bill Eagleson de la Estación Hollenbeck. Daños a una cuarta placa apoyan esa teoría, él dijo.

La placa que queda en el “Monumento a los Mexicanos de Todas las Guerras ( “Mexican American All Wars Memorial” en inglés) dice en español que es un homenaje a los soldados de origen mexicano que dieron sus vidas en la Segunda Guerra Mundial, las placas se inauguraron en 1942.

Las tres placas en conjunto tienen un valor de $5.000, aunque algunos veteranos y miembros de la comunidad podrían argumentar su valor sentimental e histórico los hace inestimables.

Durante décadas se han realizado ceremonias para el Día de los Caídos y el Día de los Veteranos frente el monumento ubicado en la intersección de la Avenida César Chávez, y las calles Indiana y Lorena. El pasado mayo, los veteranos celebraron su 65º anual vigila de 24 horas y ceremonia del Día de los Caídos. Los oradores seguido incluyen algunos de los veteranos más notables y distinguidos del Este de Los Ángeles.

Eagleson, él mismo un veterano de Vietnam, está programado a ser un orador en la ceremonia del Día de los Veteranos de este domingo en Cinco Puntos. Él dijo a EGP que es “irónico” que ahora él está investigando el crimen, agregando “no deseamos ese tipo de cobertura [negativa].”

Eagleson dijo que el robo desenfrenado de cobre y otros metales valiosos se ha convertido en una epidemia, con bibliotecas, puentes, farolas y tapas de alcantarillas convirtiéndose en el objeto de ladrones. Algunos ladrones incluso se han electrocutados durante los crímenes, él dijo.

Eagleson también está investigando si las placas podrían haber sido tomadas por coleccionistas que desean mostrarlas o venderlas. Por esta razón él dice que no puede estar seguro de que las placas ya fueron destruidas.

Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo

Rick Coca, portavoz del Concejal de Los Ángeles José Huizar, dijo que el crimen es atroz y repugnante, sobre todo en una comunidad que valora a los veteranos tanto como lo hacen los residentes del Este de Los Ángeles.

Coca dijo que Huizar quiere enviar un mensaje que este tipo de delitos no será tolerado.

Huizar esta semana planea solicitar la aprobación de una recompensa de $25.000 por el ayuntamiento, para la detención y condena de la persona o las personas responsables de este robo y vandalismo, dijo Coca.

Zapata dijo que los veteranos están discutiendo la posibilidad de realizar algunos eventos para recaudar fondos para reemplazar las placas. El personal de Huizar se reunirá con los veteranos sobre este tema, dijo Coca.

Mientras tanto, una placa temporal de madera se colocará en el monumento más grande, según Zapata. Las dos placas más pequeñas que marcan la ubicación de una cápsula del tiempo tal vez no sean repuestas ya que la cápsula de tiempo tendrá que ser excavada para construcción prevista para el lugar, él dijo.

Existen planes para reconfigurar la intersección de Cinco Puntos a una glorieta, los planes de los proyectos serán entregados a la ciudad a principios de 2013, según Coca.

La ceremonia del Día de los Veteranos en Cinco Puntos este domingo comenzará a las 10 a.m.

Walgreens Adopts ‘Ramirez Pharmacy’ Legacy in Boyle Heights

November 8, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

For decades, Eddie Ramirez built a name for himself and his pharmacies in East Los Angeles, passing his legacy on to his two sons,Roberto and Michael, who both currently work as pharmacists. But the former candidate for political office and respected member of the community who passed away in 2007, probably never imagined his photo would be embraced by a national drug store chain in Boyle Heights.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Walgreens Adopta el Legado de la ‘Farmacia Ramírez’ en Boyle Heights

Walgreens, located at the corner of Breed Street and Cesar Chavez, opened earlier this year. Today, a banner hanging over the store’s entrance proclaims: “Walgreens Welcomes Ramirez First Pharmacy [Clients], Bienvenidos Clientes de la Farmacia Ramirez.”

Just a block away, at 2403 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, a banner hanging over the entrance of Farmacia Ramirez makes its own proclamation: “Farmacia Ramirez Aquí Estamos y No Nos Vamos!” (Ramirez Pharmacy: Here We Are and We Aren’t Going Away). In smaller letters, the sign points out that the pharmacy is the original Ramirez Pharmacy; open since 1953.

This poster of Eddie Ramirez greets Walgreen shoppers as they walk into the store, welcoming his pharmacy customers from 1st Street. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Eddie Ramirez opened the pharmacy, which has become a landmark of sorts at Cesar Chavez and Soto over 30 years ago, according to his son, Dr. Michael Ramirez, PharmD, the pharmacy’s current owner.

Michael is not happy that his father’s image is on display at Walgreens, which he says has tried to buy him out.

“I’m disappointed in Walgreens, such a large, national corporation with more than 8,000 stores nationwide. For them to do something like this… it’s underhanded and disrespectful to me and the community,” he told EGP.

The controversial banner has a black and white photo of Eddie Ramirez taken from a campaign poster from his unsuccessful bid for governor of California decades ago. A label on the sign says, “Walgreens Welcome Ramirez First Street Customers.”

“I think they’re exploiting us, it’s underhanded unprofessional and unethical,” said Michael, who thinks the photo of his father could confuse some of his customers.

But this is not a simple case of one company misappropriating the name or image associated with another company.

According to Walgreens spokesman Robert Elfinger, the chain retailer received permission to use the photo from Eddie Ramirez’s family.

“Mr. Eddie Ramirez’s wife and his son Roberto gave Walgreens permission to hang the sign. The sign hung for years in Ramirez First Pharmacy and we are proud to carry on the late Eddie Ramirez’s tradition of serving the Boyle Heights community,” Elfinger told EGP in an email.

Eddie’s son Roberto closed down his branch of Ramirez Pharmacy on East 1st Street in unincorporated East Los Angeles earlier this year, and sold his patient files to Walgreens. Today, Roberto works as a pharmacist at the same Walgreens his brother says is being disrespectful to the Ramirez family history in the eastside.

Last year, Roberto became a vocal opponent of Metro’s decision to eliminate bus routes along East First Street due to the opening of the Metro Eastside Gold Line on Third Street. He says the decision made it hard for his customers to get to his store to fill their prescriptions, hurting his business.

Roberto — who has worked as a Walgreens pharmacist since September— told EGP he does not think the sign with his father’s image has confused customers, nor does he have a problem with it being on display. He declined to answer any other questions.

According to Walgreen’s Elfinger, they have not received any complaints from their customers. “We have had a few customers ask about the sign because of Eddie’s recognition in the community, but there haven’t been customer complaints,” he said.

Michael says he rebuked Walgreens’ offer to buy his customer accounts, and now the company is trading on his father’s name to try to increase their customer base. He says the sign in front of Walgreens welcoming “Farmacia Ramirez” customers bothers him.

“Walgreens is a competitor… the information is misleading on the banner,” he said. “We’re not closing,” but some customers might think we are because of Walgreen’s sign, he added.

Michael said his attorney recently sent a letter to Walgreens asking that their sign be changed to specify the 1st Street location, and not the “first’ Ramirez Pharmacy, which he owns. He wants the sign to only be in English.

Elfinger, however, says he doesn’t know anything about such a letter, and added that the company does not disclose information regarding the purchasing of customer files.

While the underlying issue could be a question of who should maintain control of their father’s image and legacy, both brothers refrained from making personal attacks about each other to EGP.

In fact, Michael said there was nothing wrong with Walgreens buying his brother’s patient files or offering him a job, “But they shouldn’t exploit the Ramirez name… I don’t think my father’s image should be there being exploited. That’s our family name…” he said.  “…It might be illegal, [I’m having] an attorney look into it.”

Roberto, however, notes that it was his mother, Dolores Ramirez, who gave Walgreens permission to use her husband’s name and image.

“I believe she has that right, it’s her husband,” he said. “In life my father taught me to honor thy mother and father—and that’s my credo.”

Farmacia Ramirez at Cesar Chavez and Soto was their father’s first and last pharmacy, Michael underscored.

He wants Walgreens to change the banner. “They are trying to capitalize on my name, my hard work. I’ve been here for 34 years with my dad,” he said. “Just because you have permission doesn’t mean it’s right.”

The two Ramirez pharmacies were located six miles apart, the 1st Street location opened in 1996.

Dolores Ramirez could not be reached for comment.


Walgreens Adopta el Legado de la ‘Farmacia Ramírez’ in Boyle Heights

November 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Durante décadas, Eddie Ramírez trabajó para sacar adelante a su familia y sus farmacias en el Este de Los Ángeles, dejando su legado a sus dos hijos, Roberto y Michael, ambos que se desempeñan actualmente como farmacéuticos. Sin embargo, el ex candidato a un cargo político y miembro respetado de la comunidad que falleció en 2007, probablemente nunca imaginó que su foto estaría en exhibición en Boyle Heights dentro de una farmacia de una cadena nacional.

El anuncio polémico de Walgreens dándole la bienvenida a los clientes de la Farmacia Ramírez. Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo

Walgreens, ubicada en la esquina de la calle Breed y César Chávez, se inauguró a principios de este año. Hoy, una pancarta que cuelga sobre la entrada de la tienda proclama: “Walgreens Welcomes Ramirez First Pharmacy, Bienvenidos Clientes de la Farmacia Ramirez.”

Solo una cuadra de distancia, en 2403 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, una pancarta también esta colgada sobre la entrada de la Farmacia Ramírez que hace su propia proclamación: “Farmacia Ramírez Aquí Estamos y No Nos Vamos!” En letras más pequeñas, la pancarta dicen que la farmacia es la Farmacia Ramírez original, abierta desde 1953.

Read this story IN ENGLISH:  Walgreens Adopts ‘Ramirez Pharmacy’ Legacy in Boyle Heights

Hace más de 30 años Eddie Ramírez abrió la farmacia, de acuerdo con su hijo, el Dr. Michael Ramírez, PharmD, propietario actual de la farmacia que se ha convertido en un hito en la esquina de las calles Cesar Chávez y Soto.

Michael no esta feliz con que la imagen de su padre este en exhibición en Walgreens, que además él acusa de intentar provocar su cierre.

“Estoy decepcionado con Walgreens, como una gran empresa nacional, con más de 8.000 tiendas en todo el país. Que ellos hagan algo así… es solapada e irrespetuoso para mí y la comunidad”, él dijo a EGP.

El cartel con la foto en blanco y negro de Eddie Ramírez es de un anuncio de su campaña no exitosa para ser gobernador de California hace décadas. Un letrero arriba de la foto dice: “Walgreens da la Bienvenida a los Clientes de Ramírez First Street”.

“Creo que nos están explotando, está solapada, poco profesional y poco ético”, dijo Michael, quien cree que la foto de su padre podría confundir a algunos de sus clientes.

Pero de acuerdo con el portavoz de Walgreens, Robert Elfinger, la cadena minorista recibió el permiso de la familia para utilizar la foto de Eddie Ramírez.

“La esposa del Sr. Eddie Ramírez y su hijo Roberto dieron a Walgreens permiso para colgar el cartel. El cartel colgó durante años en Ramirez First Pharmacy y estamos orgullosos de continuar la tradición del difunto Eddie Ramírez de dar servicio a la comunidad de Boyle Heights,” dijo a EGP Elfinger en un correo electrónico.

El hijo de Eddie, Roberto se vio obligado a cerrar su rama de Ramírez Pharmacy en la calle E. 1st Street, en la zona no incorporada del Este de Los Ángeles, a principios de este año, y vendió sus archivos de pacientes a Walgreens.

Hoy, Roberto trabaja como farmacéutico en la misma Walgreens que su hermano dice no tiene respeto por la historia de la familia Ramírez.

El año pasado, Roberto fue un opositor vocal de la decisión por Metro de eliminar las rutas de autobús a lo largo de la calle E. 1st Street debido a la apertura de la Línea Dorada del Metro sobre la calle 3rd Street. Él dice que la decisión perjudico su negocio al obstaculizar el acceso de sus clientes a surtir sus recetas allí.

Roberto—que ha trabajado como farmacéutico de Walgreens desde septiembre—dijo a EGP que él no cree que el cartel con la imagen de su padre, ha confundido a los clientes, ni tampoco tiene un problema con su exhibición. Sin embargo, negó una entrevista formal con EGP.

Según Elfinger, Walgreens no ha recibido ninguna queja por sus clientes. “Hemos tenido algunos clientes preguntar sobre el cartel por el reconocimiento de Eddie en la comunidad, pero no ha habido quejas por los clientes”, él dijo.

Michael dice que él rechazó la oferta de Walgreens de comprar sus cuentas de clientes, y que la empresa está usando el nombre de su padre para tratar de aumentar su base de clientes.

Él dice que la pancarta frente a Walgreens que les da la bienvenida los clientes de la “Farmacia Ramírez” le molesta.

“Walgreens es un competidor… la información en el anuncio es engañoso”, él dijo. “No estamos cerrando”, él agregó.

Michael dijo que su abogado recientemente envió una carta a Walgreens pidiendo que cambien el anuncio afuera del edificio para ser mas preciso.

Elfinger, sin embargo, dice que no sabe nada acerca de esa carta, y agregó que la compañía no divulga información sobre la solicitación de compra de archivos de clientes.

La cuestión de fondo podría ser quién debe mantener el control de la imagen de su padre y su legado, pero los dos hermanos no se quejaron de uno a otro.

De hecho, Michael dijo a EGP que no hay nada malo con que Walgreens haya comprado los archivos de su hermano ni que le hayan ofrecido trabajo “pero no deberían explotar el nombre Ramírez… No creo que la imagen de mi padre debería estar ahí siendo explotada. Ese es el nombre de nuestra familia…”, él dijo. “… Puede ser que sea ilegal, [le preguntaré] un abogado a investigarlo.”

Roberto, sin embargo, indica que su madre, Dolores Ramírez, le dio a Walgreens permiso para usar el nombre y la imagen de su marido.

“Creo que ella tiene ese derecho, es su marido”, Roberto dijo. “En la vida mi padre me enseñó a ‘honrar a tu madre y tu padre’, y ese es mi credo”.

La Farmacia Ramírez en Cesar Chávez y Soto fue la primera y es la última farmacia de su padre, subrayó Michael.

Él quiere que Walgreens cambie la pancarta. “Están tratando de sacar provecho de mi nombre, mi trabajo duro. He estado aquí durante 34 años con mi padre”, Michael dijo. “Simplemente porque usted tiene permiso no significa que esta bien.”

Las dos farmacias Ramírez se encontraban a seis millas de distancia, la ubicación en la calle 1st Street abrió en 1996 y duro 16 años abierta.

Dolores Ramírez no pudo ser contactada para hacer comentarios.

Mexican American Veterans’ Memorial In East L.A. Vandalized

November 8, 2012 by · 4 Comments 

A memorial in East Los Angeles dedicated to Mexican American veterans has been vandalized, stripped of three plaques on two monuments located at Cinco Puntos, a five-point intersection in Boyle Heights. A fourth plaque was damaged but not removed.

Los Angeles police are investigating the crime as grand theft and vandalism.

UPDATE: East L.A. Veterans Memorial Restored

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Monumento Conmemorativo a los Veteranos México-Americanos Saqueado por Ladrones en el Este de Los Ángeles

Veterans at the Eugene A. Obregon American Legion Post 804, which serves the Boyle Heights and East LA communities, were among the first to notice the plaques were missing, but they’re unsure when the crime occurred.

The three missing plaques were a combination of bronze and copper. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4696 Commander Tony Zapata suspects it could have happened during the last week of October when he was out of town. On Monday, Zapata filed a police report on the theft with the LAPD De Leon Hollenbeck Police Station.

“What really gets me is that they’ve been there since 1947, and they have no value to anyone except us veterans,” the Vietnam War veteran and Boyle Heights resident told EGP. “I don’t know what day it happened,” he said.
“They are probably melted by now,” he said, speculating that they may have been stolen and sold off as scrap metal.

Workers and residents in the immediate area told EGP the plaques may have been missing for up to three weeks. One woman said she saw the plaques on the floor while maintenance workers mowed the lawn, but didn’t think to question what was going on. She figured they were city employees and the plaques would be cleaned and reinstalled.

The three plaques appear to have been removed in one attempt, according to Hollenbeck Det. Bill Eagleson, who noted a fourth damaged plaque—bent at one corner and slightly pulled off the wall—supports that theory.

The remaining plaque on the “Mexican American All Wars Memorial” is a Spanish translation of the missing plaque located on the other side of the monument. The plaques paid homage to soldiers of Mexican descent who gave their lives in World War II, and were unveiled in 1942.

The three plaques together are estimated to be worth $5,000, though some veterans and community members would argue their sentimental and historic value makes them priceless.

Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day ceremonies have taken place at the memorial—located at the intersection of Avenida Cesar Chavez, Indiana and Lorena—for years. Just last May, veterans held the 65th annual 24-hour vigil and ceremony for Memorial Day. Speakers often include some of the most notable and distinguished veterans from the East LA area, such as the late three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist George Ramos who was born and raised in East LA.

Det. Eagleson, himself a Vietnam Veteran, is scheduled to speak at this Sunday’s Veteran’s Day ceremony at Cinco Puntos. He said it is “ironic” that he is now investigating the crime, adding “we don’t want that type of [negative] coverage.”

Eagleson said the theft of copper and other valuable metals has been epidemic, with library, bridges, streetlights and manhole covers being vandalized and stolen. Some thieves have even been electrocuted during the crimes, he said.

The plaques will probably be sold for 10-cents on the dollar of what the weight of the metal is worth, he said, explaining the thief or thieves did not strike it rich.

Eagleson is also looking into whether the plaques could have been taken by collectors who keep them to personally display or sell. So he can’t be sure the plaques have already been melted down, he said.

Rick Coca, a spokesman for Councilmember Jose Huizar, called the crime appalling and disgusting, especially in a community that values veterans as much as residents of East Los Angeles do.

“The Councilmember was particularly upset that something would occur like this leading up to a weekend when we celebrate our veterans,” Coca told EGP. “He wants to send a message that this type of crime will not be tolerated.”

Pending a request for a reward from Hollenbeck, Huizar will this week ask the city council to approve a $25,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for this grand theft and vandalism, Coca said.

Zapata said the veterans are discussing the possibility of holding some fundraisers to raise the money needed to replace the plaques. Huizar’s staff will be meeting with the veterans on this topic, Coca said.

In the meantime, a temporary wood plaque will be placed on the larger monument, according to Zapata. Two smaller plaques marking a time capsules’ location may not be replaced because the time capsule may have to be dug up for future construction scheduled for the location, he said.

The construction is for a $10.9 million project to reconfigure the Cinco Puntos intersection into a traffic circle; the project plans will be turned over to the city in early 2013, according to Coca.

The project affects the two traffic islands which have monuments dedicated to Mexican American veterans, including the Raul Morin Memorial Square.

Sunday’s Veterans Day Ceremony at Cinco Puntos begins at 10am.

Election Was A ‘Wake Up Call’ Say Montebello Teachers

November 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

As the nation fixated on the Presidential Election, a handful of teacher union members were holding down the fort at the Montebello Teacher’s Association offices on election night amid the faint smell of pizza in cardboard boxes.

Two volunteers, teachers at local Montebello Unified schools, were rubbing their tired eyes as they made calls to urge last minute votes in favor of Proposition 30, a tax to raise funds for education, and against Proposition 32, which would hamper the political clout of unions like theirs. The second measure in particular —which was ultimately defeated— was seen as a direct attack on the labor movement and it, along with the threat of massive education cuts ($13 million to Montebello Unified School District alone), mobilized California’s teacher unions.

Out in the lobby on election night, office manager Alonzo Ibanez was flipping between a live stream of a middle school football game and a broadcast of election results. All of the activity and campaign fervor of the last few weeks had settled – the lion’s share of the phone banking and precinct walking happened last weekend. Most of Tuesday night’s calls were happening at a central location in Santa Fe Springs.

One of the phone banking teachers came out for a break to peek at the results. She pumped her fist as she saw that Wisconsin, one of the battleground states crucial in deciding the presidential election, had gone to Barack Obama.

Those who remained at the local and regional union offices on election night — looking to pick up any stray voters — tended to be the stalwarts of the labor movement, proud keepers of union activism’s history of hard won contributions to rights enjoyed by workers today.

By the age of 9, Ed Guzman was working on a farm and fighting alongside his family to secure better working conditions. He described employment practices at farms in the 1960s as akin to sharecropping. “Mexicans knew their place, and African Americans knew their place, and they let you know it… It was like feudalism,” the middle school social studies teacher said of the farms his family worked.

Guzman’s family was involved in labor movements “on both sides of the border,” he said. His parents were involved in unions in Mexico and continued their activism while working on farms in the U.S. It was a way to help out the family, he said of fighting for worker rights. But he notes that even in his own family, there was a split — it was half anti- and half pro-union.

Growing up around the labor movement exposed Guzman to a cross section of workers, including steelworkers, miners, rubber plant workers. He rattled off a list of former steel mills and rubber plants in the East Los Angeles and surrounding area that used to provide good paying jobs to anyone with a high school diploma, and sometimes less. The Citadel in Commerce used to be a rubber plant, for example. And the unionized General Motors workers in the area made up the top pool of workers in the area where now, most people are employed in non-union jobs at major retailers like Walmart.

Guzman says he became a teacher and is now active with the teacher union because he came of age at a time when education was seen as the next civil rights issue. California was an early battleground for education rights. Mendez v. Westminster, a 1946 case involving Mexican American students fighting from being segregated out of mainstream schools, was a precursor to desegregation in the American South.

Lu Cruz, a special education teacher at one of Montebello Unified’s East Los Angeles elementary schools, originally taught in Michigan where there was a strong tradition of unionism. She said it was only natural that she would get involved with the teachers’ union when she came to Montebello in 2007. “I felt the need to be proactive,” she said.

Classroom sizes were increasing, and it was only because of negotiated provisions in their teacher contracts that prevented the number of students per teacher to balloon out of control. Cruz believes in the power of a good education, in particular because she had a difficult time with her writing skills in college, even though she was an avid reader growing up. “My writing skills were not good enough,” she said, and because of that she wants to make sure her own students are well-prepared with the critical thinking skills needed for college coursework. She echoed Guzman in her belief that education is an equalizer, and “the way out of poverty.”

Guzman says civil service employees are the “last ones standing” in the labor movement, most working class jobs have gone overseas, helped by international trade agreements and policies that seemed to encourage it.

Cruz says not as many of her colleagues are active in the union as she would have hoped, but feels Proposition 32 and 30 were like a “wake-up call” for many of her colleagues who were less aware of the labor movement’s history and tradition.

Montebello teachers, in an effort to support the statewide union efforts of the California Teachers Association, visited every single campus in their district to mobilize teachers. They held a retreat in an effort to fill younger teachers in on the traditions of unionism. “I got out a paycheck and I read everything they had, their salary and how it was determined, their job security, medical insurance, how it was determined through unionism… we began to educate them,” said Montebello Teachers Association President Julian de la Torre.

Many of those who put in the hours phone banking during this election were older, De la Torre said. “It was close and we could have lost it. One of the things we learned, we have to go back to our young people and tell them the story and we have to have a rebirth of unionism in America,” he said.

Defeating Proposition 32 and getting Proposition 30 passed, however narrowly, is a message to teachers and union groups in other states that it can be done, said De la Torre.

“It shows the sleeping giant, those people who felt under represented, minorities, in particular teachers who felt their voices being lost, we have been rattled,” he said, “When we’re cornered, we fight back.”


Eventos del Día de los Veteranos 2012

November 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Sábado, 10 de Noviembre:

10 a 11 a.m.—La ceremonia del Día de los Veteranos en El Sereno brindará un homenaje a los veteranos de las guerras estadounidenses. El evento se llevará a cabo en la Asta de Bandera Dr. Donald Newman, ubicada en la intersección de Huntington Drive y la Avenida Eastern. Para más información llame al (323) 226-1646.

1 a 4 p.m.—Primer Festival Anual por la Ciudad de Los Ángeles en Reconocimiento de los Veteranos. El evento se realizará frente el museo del buque de guerra USS IOWA en el Puerto de Los Ángeles. El evento es gratuito para el público, y habrá recorridos gratuitos del USS Iowa para los veteranos y sus familias. El festival incluye comida, información acerca de recursos para los veteranos, música en vivo, así como una zona de juegos para niños. El programa oficial comienza a las 1:45 p.m. El USS Iowa se encuentra en 250 Blvd. S. Harbor, San Pedro. Para obtener más información, visite http://www.portoflosangeles.org

Domingo, 11 de Noviembre:

10 a 11 a.m.—Ceremonia del Día de los Veteranos en Cinco Puntos en Boyle Heights. El público esta invitado a unirse con funcionarios del estado, del condado y locales, para rendirles un homenaje a los veteranos locales. El “Monumento a los Mexicanos de Todas las Guerras (“Mexican American All Wars Memorial” en inglés) en Cinco Puntos se encuentra en la intersección de Lorena, Indiana y César Chávez en Boyle Heights. Para obtener más información, llame a Tony Zapata (323) 261-8533.

11 a.m.—Ceremonia del Día de los Veteranos en Montebello. El público esta invitado a asistir a la ceremonia en el parque ubicado en Whittier Boulevard y la Avenida Taylor. La ceremonia incluirá oradores, la colocación de un ofrenda floral, una presentación militar, y una presentación por la banda de la preparatoria Schurr. Se servirán refrescos.

10 a.m.— Ceremonia del Día del Veterano en la Ciudad de Commerce. El evento incluirá una marcha procesional para todas las ramas de las Fuerzas Armadas de Estados Unidos. Habrá oradores, refrescos y entretenimiento. En caso de lluvia, el evento será trasladado al gimnasio en Veterans Memorial Park, ubicado en 6364 Zindell Ave., Commerce, 90040. Para obtener más información, llame a Rachel Baltierra al (323) 887-4404.

11 a.m. a 3 p.m.Séptimo Anual Ceremonia y Desfile del Día de los Veteranos en el Noreste de Los Ángeles. La ceremonia solemne en el antiguo ayuntamiento de Eagle Rock será a las 11 a.m. en 2035 Colorado Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90041. El desfile comienza a las 1 p.m. en la estación de bomberos ubicada en la Avenida 45 en Highland Park y se finalizará en la Plaza de los Veteranos, que se encuentra en la esquina sureste de la intersección de York y Figueroa. A las 2:30 p.m. empieza el entretenimiento en la Plaza de los Veteranos. Para obtener más información, visite nelavetsparade.org o llame a Ruby de Vera al (323) 258-0776 o Heinrich Keifer al (323) 385-4935.

2 p.m.—Ceremonia en Bell Gardens en Honor de los Héroes Locales. Los veteranos destacados en las pancartas por toda la ciudad como parte del programa “Hometown Heroes” durante los últimos cuatro años, serán presentados con sus pancartas durante la ceremonia en Ross Hall, ubicado en Bell Gardens Veterans Park, 6662 Loveland Street, Bell Gardens. El público está invitado a asistir. Para obtener más información, llame a Nick Razo al (562) 806-7702.

LA County Receives Grant to Run DUI Checkpoints

November 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The California Office of Traffic Safety awarded a $450,000 grant to Los Angeles County for their DUI taskforce, which will implement more DUI checkpoints meant to deter drunk driving. Bell Gardens, Montebello, Monterey Park and Vernon are some of the cities that will benefit from this grant.

With nearly 800 deaths in California caused by alcohol-related collisions, according to the Office of Traffic Safety, the grant will fund staffing for the DUI/Driver License checkpoints, which according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, have been the most effective DUI enforcement strategy.

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The Glendora Police Department will be administering the grant to the rest of the county.

“[Checkpoints] reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by drunk drivers,” Wendy Breyer, Community Service Officer at the Glendora Police Department, told EGP. “Through these grants we are able to lower these numbers.”

The yearlong grant will provide sweeps, which began during the Halloween weekend, through September 2013. According to Brewer, this is the eighth-year that the county has received the grant.

Lt. Larry Jackson of the Montebello Police Department told EGP that the city has received approval for the grant but is waiting on paperwork needed to start using the funds for the program.

Jackson said the grant would help deter driving under the influence in the city of Montebello, which has not conducted a DUI checkpoint for some time.

“The city has had some DUI traffic related incidents,” Jackson said. “[Checkpoints] have been successful in lowering DUI traffic and has historically lowered fatalities.”

Bell Gardens Police Capt. Jeff Travis told EGP that the last DUI checkpoint conducted by the city was in July. Funds from this grant will help the city conduct future checkpoint operations, he said.

“This grant gives us funds to pay for overtime,” Bell Gardens Police Capt. Jeff Travis told EGP. “It pays for the personnel cost.”

The DUI taskforce named “Avoid the 100,” is meant to send a message to drivers that if they don’t drink or use drugs and drive, then they will not risk getting arrested by the 100 participating law enforcement agencies in the county.

Drivers stopped for not having a valid drivers license may not automatically have their car impounded as some residents think.

Lt. Jackson told EGP that the law has changed and police officers are more reasonable and don’t necessarily impound a car. In Bell Gardens, officers are instructed to allow the unlicensed driver to call someone with a license to pick up the car to avoid it being impounded.

Capt. Travis told EGP that people with a suspended license who knowingly continue to drive will get their car impounded, but someone who has never had a license is provided with a safe area to leave their car and given 30 minutes to get someone with a license to pick it up before it is impounded.

“Since a large percentage of residents may be undocumented, we try to be fair and give them a reasonable time,” Travis said.

More importantly, says Travis, the checkpoints will create public awareness.

“Its not necessarily an enforcement tool, its more of a public awareness tool,” Travis said.

“People know we are out there and people see its something we are focused on.”

The other agencies participating in the DUI taskforce include LAPD, the California Highway Patrol in Los Angeles County and the LA’s Sheriff’s Department.


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