Workforce Training Gap will Cost Los Angeles Latino’s $8 Billion Over 10 Years

October 10, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Five years after the financial crisis of 2008, California’s economy continues to struggle toward recovery. While some communities have rebounded, urban centers with large minority populations remain saddled with high rates of poverty and unemployment. People of color, particularly young people, desperately need jobs. But to get jobs, they first need access to quality education and skills training. And unfortunately, research shows they are not getting the educational opportunities they need.

The Pew Hispanic Center reports that Hispanics have become the largest minority group on college campuses across the country, with 2 million Latino students enrolled in 2011. But far too many of these students never make it across the finish line. College graduation rates for Latinos continue to lag behind those of other groups.


Why? Many Latinos who seek higher education are not “traditional” students who move directly from high school to college. Often Latinos and other minorities are “non-traditional” students who are older, who work part- or full-time and who are raising families while they study. For many of these “non-traditional” students, the schedule and structure of traditional colleges and universities just don’t work.

While the state’s system of community colleges and public universities meets the needs of many students, other nontraditional students are looking for other academic pathways to a good job and economic security. Increasingly, non-traditional students are turning to private career colleges to pursue their educational and professional goals.


Earlier this year, Santa-Ana based Corinthian Colleges Inc. commissioned research which found that overcrowding at the state’s community colleges is preventing thousands of Latinos from pursuing higher education. The report, “Left Out, Left Behind: California’s Widening Workforce Training Gap,”  found that the state’s economy is creating good jobs in growing fields such as management, healthcare and the service industry, but its community college system cannot produce nearly enough graduates with the skills necessary to fill them.

Over the coming decade, the report found, almost 2.5 million Californians will be crowded out of community college programs that lead to career-oriented degrees, diplomas and professional certificates, costing state residents more than $50 billion in lost personal income.

More than any other group, Latinos will be denied the skills training they need to qualify for high-paying jobs. Demand for vocational and career education is skyrocketing among California’s growing Latino population, but community colleges will not be able to accommodate 840,000 Latino students over a decade. In Los Angeles County alone, a lack of vocational education and professional skills will cost Latinos about $8 billion in foregone personal income.

Career colleges can help to bridge this gap. Many “non-traditional” students have trouble succeeding academically traditional institutions. Others have had their college careers interrupted by pressing life issues. Career colleges align their instructional programs with workforce employment demand, providing students with a streamlined route to in-demand jobs.


Founded in 1963, the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF) serves communities where the need is the greatest and is committed to the betterment of the California Latino community. We are intimately familiar with the links between career education, employment opportunity and economic mobility. In order to bring about educational and economic parity for all Californians, three things need to happen:


—Latino business leaders must advocate for career education and training, to help address the unique needs of the Latino community.


—State policies must be sensitive and responsive to the educational and vocational nuances of non-traditional students for whom career education can make a direct difference.


—Our State Legislature should support legislation creating the California Higher Education Authority to measure how effectively the postsecondary schools are serving the state’s needs, and make recommendations about improving performance. We urge the inclusion of career colleges in this analysis and their incorporation into the state’s Master Plan for Higher Education.

With California’s changing demographics, access to career education is in everyone’s best interests. We must consider the needs of all of California’s students – both traditional and non-traditional – and develop policies that allow them to pursue careers, achieve financial security and contribute to the state’s economy.


Martin Castro is president and CEO of  MAOF, the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation.





The President of No

October 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Former Marines and friends knocked federal government barriers aside so they could visit the iconic and world famous outdoor bronze statute memorializing the raising of the American flag on Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima Island in 1945 by six U.S. Marines and one Navy Corpsman. The barriers were placed there across the river from Washington, D.C. on orders from the Obama Administration on “shutdown day.”

Republican congressmen and veterans and their friends knocked away barriers put up on Obama Administration orders to block off the outdoor World War Two memorial built by almost $200 million dollars of private money on the first day of the “shutdown,” October 1, the first day of the new fiscal year.

Veterans and visitors at the outdoor Vietnam Wall Memorial were turned away from the memorial under orders from the Obama Administration because there is no money authorized for spending.

Parking lots at the privately funded George Washington’s Mt. Vernon Estate, were also closed by the Obama Administration on “shutdown” day.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid answered questions as to why the Senate didn’t vote for a House-passed bill re-funding with “Why save one child with cancer?”

Democrat after Democrat parroted their president – NO NEGOTIATIONS with Republicans. The clock is ticking towards the United States of America led by President Barack Obama defaulting for the first time in world history.

We see the Obama legacy developing in front of our eyes. He would destroy the United States singlehandedly in order to destroy his political opposition.

A fire broke out on Marine Base Camp Pendleton outside Oceanside, California, causing the base Naval Hospital there to be evacuated, as were 200 base residential units on Sunday.

On the first day of the “Shutdown” the Obama Administration had ordered military commissaries closed. Hundreds of evacuees were taken to church and recreation buildings without supplies that normally would come from commissaries such as diapers for babies, bottled water, food and other things they couldn’t bring with them.


With the base on emergency shut down because of the Saturday/Sunday wildfire, crying babies and small children suffered through hours of isolation and fear. The base fire department wasn’t answering its phones because they are civilian union firemen and they had been essentially shut down while infantrymen fought the fire.

Left untouched by the Obama Administration were golf courses on federal property. Interestingly, the Obama Administration placed barriers on a highway in South Dakota so motorists cannot park on the road shoulders to take photos of Mt. Rushmore. The highway is a state highway.

The President disappeared for the weekend. The Senate did not meet because senators went home for the weekend, as ordered by Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The clock is ticking towards midnight Thursday, October 17th when the country runs out of authority to borrow money.

In the meanwhile, billions of tax revenues are flowing into the Treasury every day, week and month –Billions. As much as ten times needed to pay maturing treasury notes and bonds for ever, thus making default impossible if prioritizing of expenditures are made.

Nonetheless, President Barack Obama keeps speechifying that, never in American history has there been negotiations on potential default. That’s a lie!


During the 1973 Watergate scandal, Senate Democrats refused to pass debt limit increase legislation because they insisted on campaign contribution reform (during the Watergate scandal). They went so far as to filibuster their own Democrat-controlled senate which threatened default. Democrats also controlled the House. Simply put Obama lies about debt legislation.

Moreover, Senator Obama himself voted against increasing the debt limit in 2007 as he declared President Bush practically a criminal or at least a traitor for asking for an increase in debt limit.

He says he won’t negotiate with Republicans.

He won’t negotiate for America. No President in history has refused to negotiate in the face of default or a new recession and a potential worldwide economic earthquake.

The clock is ticking. Will the United State go into default next week? Only President Obama knows for sure.


Syndicated columnist and author Raoul Lowery Contreras lives in San Diego. His books are available at


Governor Signs Immigrant Driver’s License Bill Into Law

October 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

With hundreds of labor and immigrant-rights activists looking on, Gov. Jerry Brown sat at a desk outside Los Angeles City Hall last week and signed into law a bill that will allow immigrants in the United States illegally to obtain California driver’s licenses.

“When people ask, what does history feel like? It feels like this,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti, who hosted the signing ceremony.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 60 into law Oct. 3 allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for licenses. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 60 into law Oct. 3 allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for licenses. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Assembly Bill 60 will allow undocumented immigrants to apply for licenses that carry the mark “DP,” or Driver’s Privilege, which distinguishes them from traditional licenses that bear the mark “DL,” for Driver’s License.

The bill calls for the provisions to go into effect by January 2015, but Brown can choose to push up the start date.

Brown said the bill, which lifts a years-long restriction, “is about getting into a car without fear of (Los Angeles Police Chief) Charlie Beck’s men and women take it away from you.”

“He’s got to follow the law, too, so we’re helping him out by making this law,” Brown said.

One speaker after another — the lineup included top state legislators and Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez — said the driver’s license law will heighten road safety by requiring all motorists, regardless of their immigration status, to pass driving tests and purchase insurance.

It will also allow undocumented immigrants to freely go about their daily lives, whether it is going to work or picking up their children from school, they said.

City Councilman Gil Cedillo, a former Democratic state lawmaker who is known as a longtime champion of lifting restrictions on immigrant driver’s licenses — to the extent that he was given the nickname “One Bill Gil” because he proposed the bill nine times — appeared, at first, to be at a loss

for words.

“What can you say after 20 years?” Cedillo said before launching into a 10-minute-long speech that included thanking Nativo Lopez, the activist who first told him to “address this issue of immigrants who are now beginning to have their cars taken away from them. That is the simple and modest way history begins and change happens,” Cedillo said.

Full of emotion, he told the crowd of lookers he only wished his mother, wife and father, who strongly supported his efforts to pass the legislation but have since passed away, could be with him to witness the historic event.

“Today signifies much more than just another bill being signed by just another Governor – today is history in the making because it is the day we return justice back to the people. We can rest assured that our streets will be safer. Immigrant families can live in peace knowing that they are complying with the law, and feel at ease while driving to work, to Sunday services, or driving their children to school” stated Cedillo.

Councilman Gil Cedillo spent nearly two decades in the State Senate and Assembly pushing for legislation to allow undocumented immigrants in California to get a drivers license. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Councilman Gil Cedillo spent nearly two decades in the State Senate and Assembly pushing for legislation to allow undocumented immigrants in California to get a drivers license. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

After years of failures and near-misses, the driver’s licenses bill would have been delayed again if not for some last-minute, serendipitous maneuverings that occurred amid a flurry of activity at the end of the latest state legislative session.

They had bill faced some uncertainty because immigration-reform advocates took issue with the DP mark, which they believe would hurt immigrant drivers by identifying them as being in the country illegally.

But state Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles took over the bill, originally authored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, after he made an off-handed remark to Brown about being disappointed the legislation had failed. Brown responded that he supported the bill and would sign it if it passed out of the Legislature.

Brown today contrasted the California politicians who worked in “unison” to get the driver’s license bill passed to the “dysfunction” reflected in the federal government shutdown that was precipitated by a feud in Congress over the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law passed in 2010.

That fight has also taken some attention away from an immigration bill now pending in Congress. The bill would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“This is only the first step,” Brown said of California’s driver’s license bill. “When a million people without their documents (are) driving legally with respect to the state of California, the rest of this country will have to stand up and take notice.”

“No longer are undocumented people in the shadows,” he said. “They are alive and well and respected in the state of California.”

AB 60 could also affect Special Order 7, a Los Angeles Police Department policy that relaxed impound penalties on unlicensed immigrant drivers. The city is appealing a Superior Court judge’s ruling that the policy conflicts with state law. Beck rescinded the policy last week to comply with a court order, but city attorneys are hoping to restore the policy soon.

Dodger Stadium to Offer Free Parking for Carpoolers

October 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

It’ll pay to carpool to Dodger Stadium during the team’s playoff run.

The team announced yesterday that parking will be free for fans who have four or more passengers in a vehicle arriving at the stadium for the balance of the postseason.

Dodger Pitcher Kenley Jensen and Catcher A.J. Ellis celebrate Monday as Jensen strikes out the side in the ninth inning to help the Dodgers advance to Friday’s championship game. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Dodger Pitcher Kenley Jensen and Catcher A.J. Ellis celebrate Monday as Jensen strikes out the side in the ninth inning to help the Dodgers advance to Friday’s championship game. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

The announcement followed problems reported by some fans who said they were turned away at the Dodger Stadium gates Monday night, when the team defeated the Atlanta Braves to advance to the National League Championship Series. Turned-away fans said they were told the parking lot was full.

“We know we had a parking issue during our recent National League Division Series win against Atlanta,” said Renata Simril, the team’s senior vice president for external affairs. “We parked more than 20,000 cars and several hundred fans were unable to park at Dodger Stadium last Monday night.

We reached our capacity and some fans without parking passes were directed off-site. We were very sorry about inconveniencing these fans and felt we needed to do something to address this problem.”

As a result, the team will offer free general parking for vehicles with four or more people for the rest of the postseason.

The team also continued to encourage fans to arrive early and take advantage of the free Dodger Stadium Express shuttle from Union Station.

The Dodgers will begin play against the Cardinals in the NLCS Friday in St. Louis. The Cardinals eliminated the Pittsburgh Pirates in yesterday’s decisive fifth game of the National League Division Series in St. Louis.

Commerce Recall Proponents Told to Revise Petitions

October 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Proponents of the recall campaign targeting three recently reelected members of the Commerce City Council, have been asked to make corrections on the petitions they submitted to the city clerk’s office.

The petitions were returned Oct. 4 to the proponents for edits, Interim City Clerk Teresa Jackson told EGP on Monday. The proponents have 10 days to make the corrections and submit the revised petitions, then the city clerk’s office will have another 10 days to review the documents, she explained.

“The petitions have not been approved for circulation,” Jackson underscored.

The petitions under revision correspond to City Council Members Ivan Altamirano and Tina Baca Del Rio.

Recall proponent Jaime Valencia, a two-time former candidate for the city council, told EGP the edits are minor, and include spelling and grammar edits.

According to Valencia, Commerce Mayor Pro Tem Lilia Leon had avoided being served with her recall papers until last week. “She was in hiding from us, she used her hip surgery as an excuse…” Valencia said.

But on Wednesday, Leon told EGP that she had not yet been served.

Valencia asserts that the recall targets have it wrong when they say there are only a handful of recall proponents and that they are primarily former city council candidates. Valencia says there is corruption in the city, and eluded that a bombshell is coming.

Last week, EGP published a letter from Commerce Mayor Joe Aguilar responding to an EGP editorial on recall elections. In his response, Aguilar states a recall election would cost the city upwards of $33,000, not including staff costs.


Perez Confirms Run For State Controller

October 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

 Termed-out Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, confirmed Wednesday he will run for state controller next year.

“California has made great strides in its path to recovery, but our work is far from complete,” Perez said. “I’m running for controller to ensure our government reflects the values of the people of California and increases prosperity, by managing our finances smartly, efficiently and effectively.”

Perez is the first openly gay person to be elected Assembly Speaker in California, or to an equivalent post nationally.

State Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, also a Democrat, is also running for state controller.

The primary election is scheduled for June 3.

Man Pepper Sprayed During El Sereno Home Invasion

October 10, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

A man in his early 30s was slashed and pepper-sprayed during a home invasion in the El Sereno area, police said last week.

The attack happened around 11:30 p.m. Oct. 3 in the 4300 block of Winchester Avenue, said Sgt. Rick Colombia of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck Station.

Officers responding to a hot prowl call learned that the victim heard a noise outside his home and when he opened his door to investigate, three males, one armed with a knife, forced their way inside, Colombia said.

A struggle ensued and the man was cut on his face, back and an arm by one intruder and pepper-sprayed by another, Colombia said. The assailants then left, and it was not immediately clear if they took anything, he said.

The victim was taken to County-USC Medical Center with non-life- threatening injuries, Colombia said.

A detailed description of the suspects was not made available.

Firefighters Battle Brushfire in Eagle Rock

October 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

 City firefighters swiftly knocked down a small brushfire that charred a quarter-acre of grass along the eastbound Ventura (134) Freeway Saturday, a fire department spokesman said.

The fire – which reportedly closed two lanes of the eastbound 134 as well as a connector roads from the Glendale (2) Freeway – started at about 2:10 p.m. on the south side of the 134, just east of the 2, fire department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

“It was knocked down in less than 10 minutes by the first crew that arrived on scene,” Humphrey said.

The California Highway Patrol opened the lanes on the 134-freeway after a temporary shut down of the connector road between the two freeways around 5:10 p.m. to mop up the area scorched by the fire.

No structures were threatened and no injuries were reported, according to Humphrey.

Fire Destroys Monterey Park Home

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A two-story residential structure in Monterey Park was fully engulfed Oct.6 in a fire that took over 50 firefighters nearly two hours to contain.

Monterey Park Fire Department responded to 243 W. Markland Drive in the City of Monterey Park to a residential structure fire.

The intensity of the fire increased when firefighters encountered exploding medical oxygen cylinders that were stored at the front door by residents.

Authorities estimate the cost of damage to $625,000 structural damages and an additional $150,000 in content damage. No injuries were reported.

Fire units from Alhambra, San Gabriel, Montebello, Pasadena and South Pasadena also responded to the incident.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

LA Council Urges NFL To Bring Team To City

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Amid skepticism that Los Angeles would be a successful home to a professional football team, the Los Angeles City Council went on record Wednesday to urge the National Football League to bring in one, maybe even two teams to the city.

Councilman Tom LaBonge introduced a resolution courting league officials, arguing that Los Angeles’ sizable population of nearly 4 million – second-largest nationwide behind New York – warrants an NFL football team.

“All I’m just saying is, this is an opportunity to remind them (the NFL) we are here,” he said. “You never know what a little letter will do.”

The city has a contract with Anschutz Entertainment Group to build a professional football stadium and expand the Los Angeles Convention Center — two projects that are contingent on AEG securing an NFL franchise for the city.

Councilman Joe Buscaino, who grasped a football for effect as he spoke, also urged NFL officials to answer the call for a Los Angeles pro team.

“Last year, I remember having our chamber filled with our business community … our (football) fans, asking us to approve the stadium so that an NFL team would come to the city of Los Angeles,” Buscaino said. “Colleagues, we’ve done our part. We’re asking the NFL to do theirs.”

NFL officials remained tepid about a Los Angeles expansion, even as they announced plans this week to broaden their presence across the pond with three games in London in 2014.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday that a “stadium is a key component” in the league’s return to Los Angeles.

So far, the league hasn’t “found the right solution” in terms of an appropriate Los Angeles-area facility, Goodell said, adding that the NFL does not have a “preferred site.”

“We want a site that works,” he said. “We want a site that’s going to produce that success we talked about and that’s the ultimate objective.”

The Los Angeles area has not had an NFL team since 1994. In 1995, the Los Angeles Raiders returned to Oakland after playing at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum from 1982-1994 and the Los Angeles Rams, who played in Anaheim Stadium, moved to St. Louis.

The Chargers played in Los Angeles during the team’s first season in 1960 as part of the American Football League.

The City Council also approved a five-year agreement with AEG Wednesday to manage the Convention Center.

AEG will receive a $175,000 annual base fee for managing the city-owned event venue. The company can receive up to $175,000 more if the facility exceeds projected revenue for a given fiscal year or if AEG enhances the customer experience, facility management or public safety at the center.

The idea to hand management duties to a private company was proposed last year after the convention center was found to have been running at a deficit.

The change is also part of a larger effort to increase revenue at the Convention Center, which city officials say is too cramped to attract higher- profile confabs that can generate greater sales tax revenue.

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