Consulado de México Ofrece Foros sobre Acción Diferida en Los Ángeles

October 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

El Consulado General de México en Los Ángeles recientemente anunció que invita a la comunidad asistir uno de dos foros informativos sobre la acción diferida.

Según el comunicado de prensa, el Consulado y la organización Southeast Leadership Network el 19 de octubre presentarán los foros para ayudar a jóvenes interesados que califican para la Acción Diferida llenar la solicitud. Abogados estarán presentes para revisar los documentos de los participantes.

Los foros serán el 19 de Octubre, el primero es de 4 p.m. a 6 p.m.; el segundo es de 6 p.m. a 8 p.m.

Todos los talleres se llevarán acabo en el Consulado General de México, ubicado en 2401 W. 6th Street, Los Ángeles, CA 90057.

Solo se atenderán un máximo de 280 personas y se requiere cita.

Para programar su cita, llame al (213) 351-6827 o envié un correo electrónico con los siguientes datos: nombre completo, número de teléfono y horario del foro al que asistirán a la dirección electrónica

Cesar Chavez for All People

October 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Cesar Chavez deserves to be honored because he served the common good making our state and country better by what he did. Chavez represents qualities important for young people to reflect upon in these days of hardship and strife for many across the world

Cesar Chavez is a uniquely American figure with a history from which we can learn how to be better citizens for our country and be better persons with our fellow human beings. Chavez’ uniqueness is blending and intertwining in his life positively, the public and the personal, the individual and  the collective, the pragmatic and the spiritual. He taught self-sacrifice to help others in a country with many people centered on self aggrandizement and on obtaining material goods at any cost.

Cesar Chavez worked tirelessly to enhance the personal dignity and well-being of the most vulnerable amongst us, the least attended of the working poor, the farm workers. He taught farm workers and all others the importance of organizing to secure and maintain rights whether in the fields or the towns, in the public sphere or the private domain. He stressed doing for yourself, by doing for others with love. If we act with love we act with consideration and respect for others, the result will be a more harmonious and just society.

Cesar Chavez was in life as he is in memory a multi-dimension, multi- value person, who upheld ideals and practiced his ideals. He was nearly pennyless all his life. He claimed no status due to professional standing or family connections. He did not copy other leaders in their ways and manners. Cesar Chavez lived for the common good for the common people in all seasons which is why he deserves a commemorative day on the calendar and a place in our hearts.

Juan Gomez-Quinones is a professor at UCLA’s History Department; he can be reached at

President Moves to Preserve Chávez Legacy with New National Monument

October 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

On Monday, the President Barack Obama traveled to Keene, California to announce the establishment of the César E. Chávez National Monument under the Antiquities Act. The monument, known as Nuestra Sonora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace), or La Paz, is recognized worldwide for its historic link to civil rights icon César Estrada Chávez and the farm worker movement. The site served as the national headquarters of the United Farm Workers (UFW) as well as the home and workplace of César Chávez and his family from the early 1970’s until Chávez’ death in 1993, and includes his grave site which will also be part of the monument.

From this rural headquarters in the Tehachapi Mountains of Kern County, California, Chávez played a central role in achieving basic worker protections for hundreds of thousands of farm workers across the country, from provision of drinking water and toilets to workers in the fields, to ending forced stoop labor with a short-handled hoe and exposure to dangerous pesticides , and helping establishing basic minimum wages.

The United Farm Workers of America, the César Chávez Foundation and members of César Chavez’s family donated the properties to the federal government for the purpose of establishing a national monument commemorating César E. Chávez and the farm worker movement. The union headquarters, La Paz, is significant for its role in the 20th century labor, civil rights, Chicano, and environmental movements, and for its association with César Estrada Chávez.

The 187-acre property lies just north of Keene, California.  On it rest 26 historic buildings and structures, as well as the César Chávez Memorial Garden and burial site. La Paz continues to serve the UFW in its struggle to improve farm workers’ subsistence –level earnings and to stop their dying from heat in the fields.

Around 1918, California opened a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients on the Kern County property that La Paz now stands. Over the next fifty years, the county built dormitories, hospitals, a schoolhouse for young patients, and administrative buildings. Around 1967, the sanatorium closed. In 1970, the UFW learned that property was up for public auction in Keene, California. Though the county refused to consider the UFW’s offer to buy it, with Cesar Chavez’s brother Richard as his driver, a wealthy supporter of the new union, a movie producer, visited the property and managed to buy it at auction. The union supporter leased and later sold the property to the UFW. In January 1972, the sanatorium became the UFW headquarters.

César Chávez grew up during the Great Depression. In the 1930s, his family lost their homestead near Yuma, Arizona and traveled to California to become migrant workers, sometimes living out of their car. Like hundreds of thousands of other farm workers, the Chavez family faced low wages and unsafe working conditions. In 1944, Cesar Chávez enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served until his honorable discharge at the end of World War II.

After the war, Chávez returned to California and to migrant agricultural work. He married Helen Fabela and together they had eight children. During the 1950s, Chávez wanted to improve the working conditions of farm workers. He joined the Community Service Organization, but left CSO when the organization refused to focus on the heinous living conditions of rural labor. In 1962, the Chavez family moved to Delano, California, and with his wife Helen, his brother Richard, Dolores Huerta and Gilbert Padilla, founded the forerunner to the United Farm Workers of America. The new union participated in the Delano table-grape workers strike of 1965, which Filipino farm workers initially led, and his contribution to Mexican-American and Filipino-American unity during the strike is part of his legacy. In 1966, the organized farm workers purchased 40 undeveloped acres in Delano and built a labor community there from the ground-up, Forty Acres, the headquarters of the newly-formed United Farm Workers Organizing Committee before the organization moved to Keene in 1972.

As president of the UFW, Chávez helped the organization build La Paz to create a peaceful refuge and homes for the farm workers and supporters. During the 1970s, over 200 volunteers lived at La Paz while Cesar attempted to encourage farm workers to unionize. The residents lived and worked together, sharing meals, gardens and worship services as a community. From La Paz, the UFW led national grape and lettuce boycotts and fought to pass the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, the first law in the United States to give farm workers the right to organize and collectively bargain.

The monument, Nuestra Sonora Reina de la Paz, which will be managed by the National Park Service in consultation with the National Chávez Center and the César Chávez Foundation, will be the fourth National Monument designated by President Obama using the Antiquities Act.

It is a fitting tribute to a man who has had such an influence on the working conditions in America’s breadbasket, and the history of our country.

Jourdane is a former Deputy Secretary of Legal Affairs in the Governor’s office, attorney with California Rural Legal Assistance, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, the Department of Justice, Labor Commissioner; Superior Court judge. Jourdane has published several law review articles and two books: The Struggle for the Health & Legal Protection of Farm Workers: El Cortito and Waves of Recovery.

EGP Nov. 2012 Ballot Recommendation

October 11, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

Yes on Proposition 36—Three Strikes Law for Repeat Felony Offenders, Penalties

We believe that when voters passed the three strikes law they intended to keep repeat offenders of serious felonies in jail for life.

Unfortunately, the three strikes law has had some unintended consequences. Many of those sentenced under the Three Strikes Law and now in jail for life did not commit a serious or violent crime that would merit this substantial penalty.

But by sentencing them under Three Strikes, not only has the spirit of the law been violated, we have also added to the strain on our courts, over-crowding in our jails and prisons, all the while costing the public millions of more dollars.

Prop 36 will not allow for the re-sentencing of those convicted of selling, furnishing, giving or administering any methamphetamine or related drug if charged with a minor offense.

But murderers, rapists and child molesters will serve life sentences even if the new offense is a minor offense.

These are among the crimes the public intended to stop with three strikes.

As for the possibility of crime going up in California, states that do not have three strikes laws have not seen crime rise, in fact in New York, which does not have a three strikes law, crime has declined at higher rate than in California.

These facts along with the savings of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue get our endorsement of Prop. 36.

Yes on Proposition 35—Anti-Human Trafficking Initiative.

The fact that children and teens are prey for those who use human beings for sexual crimes, ruining their lives by subjecting them to inhumane treatment, degrading their existence and our society, is reason enough for us to issue a forceful Yes on measure 35.

But just as important as the penalty enhancements that will be added to the sentencing of anyone convicted of trafficking in child sexual abuse, is the cultural shift in our understanding of human trafficking that will be brought  about by the relabeling and stigmatizing of those found guilty of these crimes. A 12-14 year-old girl or boy caught up in a prostitution sting will no longer be seen as criminal, instead they will treated as victims and provided with wrap around services to help them try and get their life back together. Pimps, who these days are more likely to ply their trade on the Internet then on a street corner, will be forced to register as sex offenders if convicted of forcing a juvenile to have sex. They will also be required to turn over email addresses to authorities for monitoring.

Human trafficking is not just a criminal bringing in child sex slaves from other countries, on the contrary, most of the children who fall into this category were born right here in the U.S. And a large number of them have been in our foster care system.

As far as we are concerned these punishments are justified, so let’s not quibble with inane arguments against Prop. 35. Vote Yes.

Yes on Prop 37 – Genetically Engineered Food Labeling, Initiative.

This newspaper has always stressed and fought for the public’s right to know, and as a result strongly endorses Californian’s right to know what’s in their food, and how its been processed and to know whether its been genetically altered and how.

The argument that it will cost the consumer hundreds of millions of dollars just does not make sense. The public should not have to guess whether their food is free from disease, carcinogenic substances and contamination or is adulterated, so why should genetic alteration be omitted from this list. Yes on Prop 37.

Earthquake Drill to Focus on Neighbors Rescuing Neighbors

October 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Your neighbor’s chimney has collapsed; across the street a building is on fire, and three houses down your bed-ridden elderly neighbor is trapped in his bedroom, alone. The power is out and you smell gas. So you pick up the phone and call 911, only to find your telephone doesn’t work.

On Saturday, recognizing that Los Angeles may be long overdue for a major earthquake, a Northeast Los Angeles area neighborhood group will conduct an earthquake drill — complete with a mock disaster scene, like the one described above. The goal is to get people prepared for the “Big One,” or any other disaster that could leave you having to fend for yourself, your family, and your neighbors.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Simulacro de Terremoto se Centrará en Rescatar a Vecinos

The Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council Great ShakeOut Drill will simulate the aftermath of an earthquake through the use of role-playing victims with special effects makeup to illustrate their injuries. Community participants who trained for the event and created a neighbor-based emergency plan will use the skills they learned to act out how they could help their own neighbors after a natural disaster, when police and fire departments may not be able to respond quickly.

Scenes like the one pictured above from a past drill, will be repeated Saturday at the ShakeOut. (Photo courtesy of Martha Benedict)

Neil Norheim, who lives a block from the Montecito Heights Recreation Center where the drill will take place, will take part by taking on the role of an average guy who comes out of the disaster unscathed and wants to help his neighbors.

“It could happen, something like this is imminent. There is going to be a natural disaster in Los Angeles, we don’t know when but it will happen,” Norheim told EGP. “What are the chances of a fire truck going down every street … in the case of a disaster there is nothing but your neighbor” to help you he said.

The neighbor-helping-neighbor drill will take place in the Mosher and Homer streets near the Montecito Heights Recreation Center on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11a.m. A Disaster Survival Fair at Sycamore Grove Park will follow the drill from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will include a variety of games, food and music, along with information about the basics of disaster survival.

Judy Knapton, a board member for the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council, will be playing a victim in the drill she told EGP is “very realistic.”

“Its very natural to want to help your own neighbors,” Knapton said. “Its smart for smaller groups of people to be prepared.”

Mock disaster scene from previous ShakeOut drills where participants role-played victims and rescue teams. (Photo courtesy of Martha Benedict)

The drill will begin with the soundtrack of an earthquake rumble broadcasted through LAPD cruisers at 9 a.m. Community members will then simulate the rescue of victims with injuries like amputations, head traumas, broken bones and bloody faces created by Hollywood makeup artists.

The disaster scene will include a mock morgue, animal shelter, command post and a communications center. Police, fire, ambulances and the Urban Search and Rescue Team will arrive in their full gear and equipment, but not until 11 a.m., presumably hours or days after the earthquake.

Roy Payon, Community Emergency Response Search Lead for the Los Angeles Search Team in Montecito Heights, helped organize and prepare the community for the drill. He told EGP the public needs to start preparing to take care of itself in the case of a disaster.

“The drill is unique because we realized that there is not going to be enough search, fire and police to go around,” Payon said. “In a natural disaster we may not have help for five to twelve days.”

Those who cannot attend the event can log on to to play along with their friends and neighbors and use an interactive scenario to learn about what it takes to prepare their neighborhood to survive a big earthquake.

“We don’t have to look outside for help, every sector of the community has to be aware of the natural and vital resources available in their community,” said Payton.

The Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council hopes other neighborhoods will follow their lead and put together a community response disaster plan. They are filming the drill and plan to use the video to teach other neighborhoods about how they can work together in emergency situations.

The Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council Great ShakeOut Drill is a part of the Great California Shakeout that will take place on Oct. 18.

Downtown Grand Park Debuts Grand Celebration

October 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Counting down from 10, Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina on Saturday signaled the fireworks to begin as she launched the fanfare filled opening of the final block of Los Angeles’ Grand Park, a carpet of new parkland that cascades down Bunker Hill – from the Los Angeles County Music Center to City Hall.

After a decade of sometimes-contentious planning and design, the four-block long project that “elicits comparisons to New York’s Central Park or San Francisco’s Union Square,” as the New York Times gushed in an architectural review, is finally complete, and fully open to the public.

The a 9-acre urban park cascades from the Music Center to City Hall, providing a much needed green respite in a sea of concrete. (EGP Photo by Fred Zermeno)

The park staircases up Bunker Hill, and weaves together such landmarks as the iconic City Hall, the fanciful Disney Hall, and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the latter two of which are one block off the park.

The day-long official grand opening included free public events throughout the four-block plan to mark the occasion, including Saturday evening’s  “A Fanfare for Grand Park” that included music composed by David O and choreography by Jacques Heim; a performance by Latin jazz duo Dos y Mas, and topped off with an aerial dance performance by a troupe called Bandaloop on the side of lighted up City Hall, visible from the park.

A real estate company, the Related Companies, paid $50 million for the park, in exchange for development rights for a plot occupied by a 50-year-old “temporary” parking garage across the street from Disney Hall. That project has been stymied by the recession.

Fireworks go off in the back ground as Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina counts down to the opening of Grand Park in downtown. (EGP Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Most of the boundaries of the park are made up of the supervisors’ Hall of Administration, and assorted county offices, including the Sarah Foltz Criminal Courts Building, home of the O.J. Sim, Conrad Murray and tens of thousands of other criminal trials. The park includes native habitat, a large fountain with a splash pad, and lounge chairs the color of pink flamingos throughout the area. The park is already a favorite for lunching jurors.

Designers faced great difficulty in designing the park around massive spiral underground parking garage entrances and three major streets that bisect the park. But access is easy: the Red and Purple line subways cross under Grand Park at the Civic Center station, and dozens of bus lines and a new city bike path pass near it.

Just south of the park, construction is proceeding on a new modern art museum to house the collection of philanthropist Eli Broad, Jr. The Museum of Contemporary Art, the new cathedral and the Pueblo de Los Angeles historic park are within two blocks of Grand Park, but access in those directions are blocked by two 1950s-era county buildings that some county officials would like to demolish.

The park informally opened to the public last summer. For more information about activities visit .

Partnership LA On Track to Keep Running Schools Renewal

October 11, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday approved a Master Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the School District and the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS). The vote is the first step toward reviewing a possible renewal of schools managed under the Partnership, often referred to as the “mayor’s schools.”

PLAS was established in 2008 to turn-around some of Los Angeles’ historically worse performing schools and has grown to include a total of 22 schools in Boyle Heights, South LA and Watts.

The group as a whole has made some academic gains, but critics say the Partnership has failed to dramatically increase student performance, especially at Roosevelt High School that is now composed of seven schools, each with its own principal and County-District-School code.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: LAUSD Considera Nuevo Contrato con la Alianza que Gestiona Escuelas Locales

The MOU was approved despite a motion by Board Member Marguerite LaMotte, who wanted to move the item to another meeting date to give board members more time to review the progress at individual schools currently managed by the Partnership.

United Teachers Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher also asked that the decision be delayed, saying this and other MOUs on the agenda should not be rushed. Teachers and other stakeholders should have a chance to have a say, he said. However, UTLA does not support or oppose the memorandums, he added.

Several students, teachers and Partnership representatives spoke in support of the Memorandum’s approval during the meeting.

“Five years ago we launched it [the Partnership] with the belief that if we took the intent and the strong resources and expertise that LAUSD had, we were confident that with the support of the Mayor’s Office, from the Philanthropic community, from our community leaders—if we put all these pieces together—that was in the best interest of the students in these schools in Watts, in South LA, in Boyle Heights,” Partnership CEO Marshall Tuck told the Board highlighting combined and individual school gains over the last 5 years while acknowledging a lot of work still remains to be done.

“We are going to do whatever we can to improve these schools. We are deeply committed and proud to be part of these schools,” he added.

The Partnership manages twelve schools in Boyle Heights: Hollenbeck Middle School; Stevenson Middle School; Sunrise Elementary School; and the two Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center high schools, Engineering & Technology and Math & Science; and Roosevelt’s seven small schools: School of Law & Government, Humanitas Art School, School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Math, School of Communications, New Media & Technology, Academy of Environmental & Social Policy, Academy of Medical & Health Sciences, Math, Science & Technology Magnet Academy.

The board vote came a few days after a town hall meeting hosted by LAUSD Schoolboard President Monica Garcia at Roosevelt High School.

Community activist Jose Aguilar criticized the meeting as a “pop-up town hall,” noting that he and other critics of the Partnership who had been demanding such a meeting for some time, were not invited, even though during a meeting earlier this year they got Garcia, in whose district the school is located, to agree to hold such a meeting.

“I’m shocked I wasn’t notified or emailed, and I was a member of the on-sight council for ELAC so they have my email…” Aguilar told EGP the following day.

The meeting was publicized and flyers were passed out to students and the community, Garcia’s Communications Deputy Lizette Patron told EGP.

While principals, parents and former students spoke in favor of the PLAS contract renewal, several teachers and parents voiced their opposition during the town hall.

Roosevelt STEM Teacher Steve Lopez questioned the justification of the MOU renewal when the academic goals had not been met. To which Garcia responded that there is evidence progress has been made at the school.

Robert Peñuela, a teacher at the school for 14 years, said the information about the MOU renewal lacks transparency. “I didn’t know it was going to be an infomercial,” he said about the meeting.

Another teacher said Garcia and PLAS should have instead held a series of meetings to give stakeholders the opportunity to be engaged and to determine if the Partnership is working.

Parents complained there was not enough parent engagement, technology is out-of-serve despite the Partnership’s efforts to update computers, and too many students were ditching school and seen loitering in the neighborhoods during school hours.

On more than one occasion, Garcia said the alternative to renewing the MOU is the application of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), under which schools are reconstituted and teachers must reapply for their jobs.

Reforming the schools under Public School Choice was not discussed.

According to Tuck’s presentation on Oct. 4, the Academic Performance Index (API) score for all partnership schools on average are up 80 points after four years, and there has been steady improvement across all schools in English, Math, Science and History. Other gains include increased graduation rates, improved attendance, and a reduction in suspensions.

The Partnership brought more than $72 million from outside sources to the 22 schools and has partnered with more than 55 organizations to bring resources and opportunities to students, Tuck said.

The Boyle Heights high schools’ API scores are up. Roosevelt’s seven schools combined have an API growth projected at 60 points higher compared to four years ago. Mendez Engineering & Technology’s API is up by 58 points, and Mendez Math & Science is up by 66 points, according to the presentation.

Roosevelt’s 4-year graduation rate has increased by 11 percent since the Partnership took over—they now have a 54 percent graduation rate, compared to 43 percent in 2008. The graduation rate for Mendez High Schools combined for 2011-2012 is estimated at 41 percent (The two Mendez schools opened in 2009 and have not yet graduated a 4-year cohort).

All but two of Roosevelt’s 7 schools are estimated to increase their API scores this year. The Humanitas Art School and the Communications API score are forecasted to drop by 5 points, and the New Media & Technology School API is anticipated to drop by 31 points, according to the Partnership. The other schools are expected to increase by 11 to 68 points.

Last year, Roosevelt’s schools individually and as a whole were teetering at or below 600 points—far from the 800 API goal under NCLB, critics have pointed out.

Commerce Mayor Kicks Off ‘State of the City’ Meetings Tonight

October 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Update: the Oct. 17 meeting has been cancelled and rescheduled.

Residents of the City of Commerce will be able to voice their concerns to city officials during the first of four “State of the City” addresses to be held tonight at Bristow Park Community Center.

Mayor Lilia R. Leon will discuss the city’s current finances and programs, as well as the city’s plans for progress and economic growth in the year ahead, according to a news release from the city.  The mayor will speak at 6 p.m.; Bristow Park Community Center is located at 1466 South McDonnell Avenue.

Commerce’ Interim Public Information Officer Jason Stinnett told EGP that the mayor will discuss a range of topics, including Measure AA, a local half-cent sales tax increase placed on the November ballot by the city council. City officials say the increased sales tax revenue would help offset severe budget cuts.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Commerce Hoy Inicia Reuniones Comunitarias ‘Estado de la Ciudad’

In July of this year, the city council adopted a $50,477,531 General Operating Budget for fiscal year 2012-2013. The budget contained a $5,000 surplus, despite projections of a $4 million deficit due to a loss of revenue blamed on the lackluster economy and the state’s decision to end redevelopment funding.

An unanticipated jump in revenue from sales taxes and fees, totaling nearly $1.7 million, $1.5 million in cuts to city department budgets, cost adjustments to the Sheriff’s Department and the sale of the city’s water production right to Whittier for $345,000, and $500,000 from the its reserves, allowed the city to close the funding gap without any major cuts to city programs or employee layoffs. Commerce has reduced its operating budget by $6 million of the last four budget cycles.

In August, following the recommendation of city Blue Ribbon Committee, council members approved placing the general tax measure up for a vote in November, and say it could raise  $4.5 to $5 million over the first year to pay for vital city services, such as street repairs and public safety.

The proposed sales tax increase will be on the agenda at all four town hall-style meetings being held in October at different locations in the city.

“The goal is community outreach and to educate the community,” Stinnett said. “It ensures the community stays up to date on what is going on in the City.”

Not only will residents obtain information at the State of the City address, residents will also be able to participate in a Q&A with the city officials after the speech.

“Its good to get engaged in local government, to get to know what’s going on in the city,” Stinnet said. “That way government stays accountable.”

Typically, the city speaks to the business community in August and to residents during the Commerce’s Annual Birthday Celebration, but due to city budget cuts, the town hall-style addresses are more within the city’s budget, Stinnett told EGP.

“The city is very dedicated to transparency,” Stinnett said. “Hopefully [residents] show up and participate.”

Meeting Dates:

Oct. 11, 6:30 p.m.—Bristow Park Community Center, 1466 S. McDonnell Ave.

Oct. 17, 6:30 p.m.—Ruben C. Batres Community Center, 4725 Astor Ave.

Oct. 18, 6:30 p.m.—Commerce Senior Center, 2555 Commerce Way

Oct. 25, 6:30 p.m.—Veterans Park Meeting Room, 6364 Zindell Ave.

Angelenos Participate in City Meetings Aimed at Directing Housing Funds

October 11, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

The City of Los Angeles is in the midst of a series of community meetings aimed at soliciting input into how Federal grants that target very-low, low-, and moderate-income communities in the city should be used.

Meetings in Boyle Heights, Southwest and Central LA and the Harbor Area have already taken place. Meetings in other parts of the city are on the horizon.

Every five years the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires Los Angeles to develop a Consolidated Plan, a document showing how it intends to spend grants for low-income communities and address issues related to affordable housing, job creation and reducing homelessness, according to Ana Lynn, senior director of Community Development Policy and Programs for the Office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

“The reason I am here is to say that we want to hear directly from you, the community residents,  so, yes, your voice does count” when the city is deciding where to target its resources, Lynn told the attendees at a meeting held earlier this month at the Pico Aliso Recreation Center in Boyle Heights.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Dan Aporte Acerca de Como se Deben Usar Fondos Federales de Vivienda

The meeting at Pico Aliso was intended to gain input from residents in East and Northeast Los Angeles communities.

A community survey is the first step in the information gathering process, explained Llyn, who added the city has already received back a thousand of the surveys distributed across the city. During the meeting, residents were asked to use post-it stickers to label community “treasures,” “challenges” and “changes/improvements” desired in the areas of housing, jobs and businesses, social services, neighborhood improvements and “other.”

At one point, stakeholders, including several members of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, broke into groups where they gave more detailed feedback on one of the areas they wanted improved.

The information gathered at the session will be submitted to L.A.’s mayor and city council, as well as HUD, speakers said.

Feedback from the community showed that not everyone agrees on how to spend the federal grants, especially when it comes to changes in their backyards. Area stakeholders were often at odds with one another, especially in the area of housing.

While some residents said they want more affordable-housing units to be built, others said there are already too many in their area. Similarly, some wanted neighborhood improvements and more name brand retailers, like Starbucks, but others called those suggestions gentrification, and in Boyle Heights, for many that is a problem.

Boyle Heights resident Rosalie Gurrola on several occasions complained that the affordable housing projects being built locally by a developer are attracting more homeless people to her neighborhood. And, she said, the developments are just adding more density in an area that is already too crowded.

Homeowner Terry Marquez said one of the challenges to increasing homeownership in the area, where a large number of the area’s residents are renters, is lackluster schools. She and others hinted that more code enforcement could improve the appearance of residences.

And while there was disagreement on housing issues, many at the meeting agreed their community needs more parks, jobs for youth and support for family-owned small businesses. They would also like to see non-polluting businesses that pay well take over industrial facilities in the area. More “micro economies,” like s

Stakeholders were asked to provide feedback on housing, jobs and other neighborhood improvements. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

treet vending, are needed, according to some.

Post-it notes said they want more health and public safety programs, such as nutrition programs for children, youth services and gang and crime prevention and intervention programs. They also called for enhanced DASH transit routes, healthy food markets and a movie theatre.

Yancey Quiñones owns Antigua Coffee House in Cypress Park. Over the next five years, he would like to see cleaner streets, less graffiti, more community pride and an increase in homeownership in his neighborhood. “Make your community look good,” he said, sugesting this would help move things in the right direction.

However, Boyle Heights native and homeowner Irma Ramirez said many people are afraid to clean up the graffiti because it could lead to confrontations with taggers and gang members,

About 100 people attended the East Region Consolidated Planning. (EGP Foto por Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Vic Chaubey, who identified himself as a community organizer currently residing in Long Beach, said it’s unfortunate that a lot of people feel city meetings, such as the one at Pico Aliso are a waste of time and that their opinions don’t count. It’s usually only people involved in organizing who participate, he told EGP.

Angelenos who missed the meeting can still chime in at one of the meetings to be held in West LA, South Valley, South LA, Watts and North Valley; the meeting schedule can be seen at

Residents can also email their comments to or for English, and for Spanish.

The Commission will accept faxed comments for Community and Family Services at (213) 744-9061; or by mail at 1200 West 7th Street, 6th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90017.

A second round of meetings will be held in January on the draft Consolidated Plan, before it is adopted and approved by the city council and mayor and submitted to the Housing and Urban Development Department, according to Rita Moreno, Analyst for the Commission for Community and Family Services.

In addition, an action plan will be developed for each year of the Consolidated Plan that will detail how funds will be allocated to reach the plan’s goals, she said.

Obama Dedicates César E. Chávez Home as National Monument

October 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

President Barack Obama on Monday dedicated the César E. Chávez National Monument in Keene, California. The 120-acre monument site in the Tehachapi Mountains in the San Joaquin Valley, served as home, headquarters and now final resting place for the labor leader and civil rights activist who Obama said “gave a voice to poor and disenfranchised workers everywhere.”

The president, evoking the Antiquities Act for the fourth time since becoming president, made the site known as Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz or just La Paz, the 398th location in the National Park Service system, and the first to be named for a Latino.

Until his death in 1993, La Paz was Chávez’ home and the headquarters of the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) since the early 1970s when Chávez was its president.

Before being purchased by the UFW, the site was home to a rock quarry and tuberculosis sanatorium. From La Paz, Chávez and other leaders of the UFW directed efforts to win right for agricultural workers, and brought about the passage of the first U.S. law that recognized farmworkers’ collective bargaining rights.

“The site soon became a tangible symbol of the union’s growth and the crossroads of the farm worker movement, a place where thousands of workers came to learn how to operate their union, affect social change, and plan their strategies,” according to a statement from the Department of the Interior.

Speaking at the dedication ceremony, the president said Chavez cared about farm workers and “In his own peaceful and eloquent way he made other people care too.”

Obama said Chavez believed that “when someone who works 12 hours a day in the fields can earn enough to put food on the table — maybe save up enough to buy a home — that lifts up our entire economy.”

The president, who fashioned is 2008 “Yes we can” campaign slogan after the UFW’s “Si se puede” mantra, said even though Chavez worked for 20 years without a single victory, “he refused to give up. He refused to scale back his dreams. He just kept fasting and marching and speaking out, confident that his day would come.”

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on Monday hailed the president’s decision to create the national monument in honor of Chavez. “César Chávez was one of the giants of the Civil Rights movement, leading a life rich with purpose and providing a voice for the powerless and oppressed,” Salazar said. “By designating La Paz as a national monument, President Obama is ensuring that future generations will have a place to learn about this extraordinary man and the farm labor movement that improved the lives of millions of workers.”

The monument will be managed by the National Park Service in cooperation with the National Chávez Center. The UFW, the César Chávez Foundation and members of César Chávez’ family donated properties at La Paz, including the Chávez home where the labor leader’s widow, Helen Chávez, will continue to reside, the Memorial Garden where César Chávez is buried, and Visitor Center, to the federal government.

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, who joined the President and Salazar at La Paz for the ceremony, said César Chávez’ contributions “are an important part of the American story…”

The American Latino Heritage Fund (ALHF) of the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, has donated $150,000 to support the initial operations of the Chávez monument. The ALHF supports the work of the National Park Service in preserving historic places that tell a more inclusive story of American Latinos’ economic, civic and cultural contributions to the American experience.

Ruben Andrade, a native of California, and the son of farm workers, has been named acting superintendent of the new monument. “My family and I know firsthand the hard-fought accomplishments that are the legacy of César Chávez,” said Andrade. “To now have the opportunity to lead this new national park established in his honor and to work with the National Chávez Center to tell the story of Chávez and the farmworker movement, is both humbling and exhilarating.”

César E. Chávez National Monument is located at 29700 Woodford-Tehachapi Road in Keene, California, approximately 30 miles southeast of Bakersfield. The site is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit the César E. Chávez National Monument website at

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