Slain Youth Remembered

October 2, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

Candles and flowers mark the spot where Michael Cardenas, 17, lived his final moments after being killed by gunfire at 8:45pm on Sept. 23. According to family members, Cardenas died in his 14-year-old sister’s arms at Veterans Park, located behind the Boys & Girls Club.

The teenager’s death shocked many in Bell Gardens and left his family angry at media reports that said Cardenas was allegedly a gang member.

“He was not a gang member, he wasn’t a troublemaker,” said his cousin Teri Munoz, 21.

Munoz said Cardenas was just a kid who liked to skateboard and liked to spend his free time at the park. She also said Cardenas’ friend was the intended target.

Michael Cardenas, pictured above, was killed Sept. 23 at Veterans Park.

“They almost shot my little cousin [Cardenas’ younger sister], if she wouldn’t have dropped to the floor she would have been another body lying next to my Mikey,” said Munoz, who added that Cardenas was like a younger brother.

Laura Lopez, Cardenas’ aunt, remembers him as a caring young man whom everyone liked.

“He had dreams, he had hopes,” said Lopez.

She also said that last year Cardenas started his first job as a volunteer, he tutored students at Suva Intermediate School.

“He wanted to work to help his mother,” said Lopez, adding that Cardenas’ mom is a single mother.
The day after the shooting, family and friends gathered at the park where Cardenas died and held a candlelight vigil in his honor.

Last Friday at the Bell Gardens’ homecoming game, a moment of silence was held for Cardenas and fundraising efforts were announced, according to Marthaane Viurquiz, a family friend,
Viurquiz said a large number of high school students were present to support the family and do the physical work for the back-to-back car washes that weekend. Not only did they have 60 to 70 volunteers between Saturday and Sunday, but they also received support from members of the community who brought their cars to be washed.

“Both days were a success,” Viurquiz to EGP. “In the first five hours on Saturday we raised almost $2,000.”
Viurquiz said they had hoped to raise $3,000 during the weekend but raised almost $3,400. She said teenagers from the community have passed around a donation box to help raise money to cover funeral costs.

An adult at the car wash who asked to remain anonymous, lamented to EGP that some of the car wash volunteers felt threatened. Other sources confirmed that a car passed by with people throwing gang signs and they feared it was the same gang members involved in Cardenas’ death.  A police report was filed but the suspects were not found.

Cardenas was a student at Vail High School in Montebello; his friend from the skateboarding park in Bell Gardens told EGP that Cardenas wasn’t interested in gangs.

“Mikey was a talented skater,” said the friend who also asked to stay anonymous. “He always had a smile on his face and he had a youthful innocence—but [that night] he was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Cardenas’s friend also said the victim spent most of his time at the other side of the park where there is a skate park, and didn’t know why he was where he was when shot. The friend also told EGP that he too now feels threatened.

“Things are getting out of control,” said the friend. “Bell Gardens is getting scary, it’s to a point where I feel like I don’t want to be here anymore.”

According to Jeff Travis from the Bell Gardens Police Department, Cardenas’ death is the second homicide this year—last year at this time there had already been five homicides.

The investigation is still underway. Travis told EGP that he could not give information about the suspects at this time and didn’t want to “jeopardize the investigation.”

Cardenas’ viewing will be held Friday and the funeral will be on Saturday. A fund to help pay for the costs of the funeral has been established at Bank of the West.  Donations can be made to account number: 683049852.

Late Breaking: Bailout Gets Second, Costlier Life from Senate

October 2, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

It took two days and hours of heated debate, but the Senate last night did what the Congress failed to do on Monday, they passed a bill aimed at bailing out financial institutions.

Following two days of negotiations and more than three hours of floor discussions in which senators from across the country got to speak on the record and to their constituents, senators voted 75-24 in favor of passage.

On Monday, the House of Representatives voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (H.R. 3997). Their proposed $700 billion bailout of the U.S. financial institutions failed by a vote of 206-227.
In response, senate leaders worked quickly this week revising the bill with hopes of bringing legislation to President Bush’s desk by Friday.

The senate bill will include added tax breaks for businesses and alternative energy and an increased FDIC insurance limit.  The bill also raises guarantees on savings from $100,000 to $250,000 making it an $850 billion dollar bailout, $150 billion more than members of congress were willing to support just two days earlier.

Senate leaders hope that the additional provisions would help eliminate Congress’ hesitation and objections.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor and said, “It had to be done.” She told KFWB-980, that businesses and people were being hurt by the freezing up of lending institutions and their awarding of credit. She said despite receiving thousands of calls telling her not to bailout Wall Street, she felt she had to vote in favor. “Most people don’t understand what’s in the bill,” she said. “It’s not a gift, like some people believe.”

The bill is expected to reach the House by mid-day Friday. Rejection of similar legislation on Monday resulted from a split vote.  Congressional delegates from Los Angeles along with most southland counties were split on Monday’s vote with thoughts from both sides surrounding Main Street. Feinstein said she hopes the House will see that their concerns have been addressed and quickly move forward and pass the bill.

Despite a roller coaster ride on Wall Street, with the Dow falling more than 700 points following the vote, many U.S. representatives said there did not see enough protections for Main Street.  “Unfortunately, this legislation will not help families who are stretching paychecks and trying to hold onto jobs without additional steps to stabilize our housing market. It lacks needed reform of bankruptcy laws to allow consumers to renegotiate the terms of their mortgage in bankruptcy courts to help keep their homes,” said Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis (CA-32), who voted against the plan on Monday.

Congressman Henry Waxman (CA-30) felt somewhat differently.  In a statement released after Monday’s vote, Waxman said, “I have reluctantly decided to vote for the plan, but I do so only because the alternative of doing nothing is worse. Even the economists who question the structure and effectiveness of the Administration’s proposal say that doing nothing would imperil our economy. That is a risk we should not take.”

According to Waxman, Main Street would be better protected in the long run with a plan than without, a thought shared with others who voted in its favor.

“The stakes for our economy and the American people are high, and I felt it was more important to do something than nothing to prevent a further economic collapse,” said Congressman David Dreier (CA-26), on why he supported the plan proposed earlier this week.  “My hope now is that we can keep working together to come up with a solution that helps get our economy back on track.”

Congressman Xavier Becerra (CA-31) voted against Monday’s plan stating, “The greed and irresponsibility that we have witnessed by some on Wall Street, fueled by the deregulation mindset that prevailed in the previous Republican Congress, led us down this perilous path. We definitely need to act to address our economic crisis, but whatever we do the solution must be hardworking families first.”

Service to Inner City Youth Honored

October 2, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

A friendship that started over 20 years ago with 5:30 a.m. pickup basketball games at the Hollenbeck Youth Center in Boyle Heights came full circle when the organization awarded a former participant for his contributions to inner city youth last week. Henry Dominguez, a vice president with Anheuser-Busch, was among several professionals honored by the Inner City Games Los Angeles and Hollenbeck Police Business Council during its 27th Annual Salute to the Los Angeles Dodgers Luncheon, held in Downtown Los Angeles on Sept 25.

 Left, Henry Dominguez Vice President of sales for Anheuser-Busch Southwest,  far right, Daniel E. Jinney, Vice President of Operations at State Farm California Office.  Center is Danny Hernandez President, Hollenbeck Police Business Council and the Inner City Games. (EGP Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Left, Henry Dominguez Vice President of sales for Anheuser-Busch Southwest, far right, Daniel E. Jinney, Vice President of Operations at State Farm California Office. Center is Danny Hernandez President, Hollenbeck Police Business Council and the Inner City Games. (EGP Photo by Fred Zermeno)

The fundraiser luncheon, highlighted with several awards, included the announcement by event co-chair, Josh Valdez, that he had donated $100,000 to the Hollenbeck Center as part of his pledge to raise money for the organization. Valdez said the donation was part of keeping his word after an original fundraising goal was not met. The organization honored members of the community in three different areas. Awards were presented to business leaders for their contributions to the center, officers with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck station and children who participate in the center’s programs.

Both Dominguez, and Daniel Kinney were honored with the Amigos de los Ninos Award. Daniel Hernandez, president and CEO of the Hollenbeck Police Business Council and founder of the Inner-City Games (ICG), presented Dominguez with his award. Hernandez told the audience how he and Dominguez used to meet in the morning before work to play basketball. He said that relationship grew as Dominguez climbed through the ranks of Anheuser-Busch and continued to contribute to the center,

Dominguez thanked the audience, which included a large number of corporate donors, for their contributions of service to inner city youth.

”I was taught the value of giving back at an early age,” he said.

Dominguez said the center is vital because “it breeds good citizens.” He added that the kids are not “at risk” when they are at the Hollenbeck center.

Kinney, vice president of operations for State Farm Insurance, has served on the board of directors for the Inner-City Games since 2005. In addition to his work with the ICG board, his employer, State Farm, has contributed over $640 million since 1994.

Kinney, who was adopted as a child, said the best part of the Hollenbeck organization was that it builds confidence in the children who participate in its programs.

“The Hollenbeck Youth Center is all about opening the window of opportunity for young people,” he said.
The organization presented its Director’s Award to Los Angeles Dodgers Hall of Fame Spanish language broadcaster, Jaime Jarrin. The Dodgers have partnered with the Hollenbeck center since 1981.  In an earlier ceremony, the organization honored two officers with the LAPD’s Hollenbeck Division. Capt, Blake Chow, commanding officer of the Hollenbeck division, presented the Kelly Key Award to two members of the Hollenbeck Narcotics Enforcement Detail. The two officers, Tony Salazar and Detective Daniel Hanabusa were both recently injured in separate incidents in the line of duty.

The organization also presented three Kids of the Year Awards to Isabel Barrera, 14, Oscar Hernandez, 11 and Judith Moreno, 17. The three youths were recognized for their contributions while participating with the Hollenbeck Youth Center and the Inner City Games.

According to its Web site, www.hollenbeckpbc.org, the Hollenbeck Police Business Council was formed in 1972 following a series of riots in the streets of East Los Angeles. Members of the East Los Angeles business community partnered with the LAPD Hollenbeck Division to help at-risk inner-city youth. The Hollenbeck Youth Center opened in 1976 and was staffed with police officers from the LAPD Hollenbeck station.

However, the center lost its funding for the police staff when voters passed Proposition 13. After several years of planning, Daniel Hernandez was hired to run reopen and run the center. In 1991, Hernandez created the Inner City Games (ICG) to serve the youth of East Los Angeles. Following the Los Angeles riots of 1992, he expanded ICG into a citywide athletic and academic program. Today ICG operates in 15 cities and serves over 1 million children. Both the Hollenbeck Youth Center and Inner-City Games are nationally recognized community based organizations.

Legislative Dateline: October 2, 2008

October 2, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Incorporating and Annexation Easing Bill Signed into Law
As of Monday, communities throughout the state will get the financial assistance needed to form new cities or annex land under new legislation signed by the governor and introduced by Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero (D-East Los Angeles).  East Los Angeles is among the neighborhoods that will benefit from Romero’s Senate Bill 301.

Prior to SB 301, state law required communities to complete incorporation or annexation by July 2009 to receive funding to cover costs associated with forming new cities or expanding into new territory.  SB 301 eliminates the deadline allowing financial possibilities for several communities to proceed with their plans, including incorporation efforts of Alamo in Contra Costa County, Eastvale in Riverside County, Rowland Heights in San Gabriel Valley and Rio Linda Elverta in Sacramento County, along with East Los Angeles.

Governor Passes Sub-prime Mortgage Relief Bill
Senate Bill 870, authored by Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles), passed last week. SB 870 was created to address the need to act quickly by eliminating the requirement to adopt new regulations, which could delay implementation by six months or longer.

SB 870 helps to quickly administer the Federal Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HR 3221) by streamlining the process by which the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) implements a $1.1 billion program aimed at refinancing the loans of distressed borrowers with sub-prime loans.

The measure allows CalFHA to establish the program by action of its Board of Directors following a publicly-noticed hearing, instead of regulation, a process that could take up to six months.  CalFHA will also be able to assist borrowers with adjustable mortgage rates who are at risk of losing their homes by way of $11 billion in new tax-exempt housing bond authority outlined in HR 3221 only available trough 2010.

The Los Angeles City Council recently joined their counterparts in Inglewood, Carson, Gardena and Culver City in lending their support for SB 870.

Barrier to Housing for Homeless is Eliminated as SB 1341 is Signed into Law
SB 1341 by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) passed into law on Sunday allowing homeless individuals on permanent or temporary assistance to save money so they can pay deposits for apartment/housing rentals through a CalWORKS program.

Prior to SB 1341, CalWORKS, a program offering one-time Homeless Assistance benefit for recipient families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, prohibits individuals who receive permanent or temporary homeless assistance from having more than $100 in their savings account.  While CalWORKS does allow for the creation of a restricted account of up to $5,000 the money can only be used for job training, education, starting a business or purchasing a home. Overall the program discourages families from stabilizing.

SB 1341 was created to maximize the effectiveness of the Homeless Assistance benefit and increase family self-sufficiency to avoid an episode of homelessness by allowing families to save for realistic entry costs of rental housing.

Community News Briefs: October 2, 2008

October 2, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Metro Begins Street Reconstruction as Construction on Gold Lines Continue

Metro construction crews began street reconstruction on Indiana and Lorena streets in Boyle Heights on Monday as construction of the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension continues.

Indiana Street work will consist of installing a new sidewalk on the west side of the street and street repaving between Second and Gleason streets. Construction is planned to last six weeks.  Lorena and First streets are being re-striped and re paved.  There will also be a new crosswalk on this intersection.  Work will last another week.

Access to homes, businesses and to emergency vehicles will be maintained. Pedestrian access also will be maintained outside the construction zone. Parking on Indiana will be restricted at this time.

The Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension, which will feature eight stations (two underground), will span six miles from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles via the Arts District/Little Tokyo and Boyle Heights to Atlantic/Pomona Boulevards in East Los Angeles and scheduled to open in June 2009.

McCormick Enchilada Sauce Mix Recalled

McCormick & Co. Inc. voluntarily recalled their enchilada sauce mix, sold nationwide, because it contains undeclared milk ingredients.

People allergic to milk “run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reactions” if they consume McCormick Enchilada Sauce Mix with UPC Code 52100091600, according to a company statement.

The enchilada sauce mix was distributed to grocery stores nationally on Sept. 17 in 1.5-ounce pouches with an expiration date of “AUG2910CH.”

No illnesses or allergic reactions have been reported to date, according to the company and no other McCormick products are involved in the recall.

All grocery outlets stocked with affected sauce mix have been notified to remove them from shelves immediately, and consumers who have purchased the product should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

PetSmart Donates Money to Support Low Cost Pet Clinics

PetSmart’s charitable arm announced it is donating $13.8 million for eight low-cost spay/neuter clinics in the city and county of Los Angeles on Monday.

Beginning Wednesday, most dogs and cats in the city of Los Angeles will have to be spayed or neutered by the time they are four-months-old. Los Angeles County already requires most dogs to be neutered and microchipped.

PetSmart Charities’ five-year plan is expected to result in the sterilization of 500,000 pets.

“The best solution for reducing the steady stream of homeless companion animals into the shelter system, and ultimately reducing the tragedy of euthanasia, is to reduce the number of unwanted pets. That is achieved with spay and neuter efforts,’’ said Susana Della Maddalena, executive director of PetSmart Charities.

Two nonprofit organizations, Clinico and FixNation, will administer the funding and provide low-cost services to pet owners.

Roosevelt Rough Riders Ripped Off

Thieves broke into Roosevelt High School on Sunday and stole equipment and supplies from several areas around the campus, including shoulder pads and helmets for about 20 members of the Rough Riders Varsity football team. Practice was impacted as several players were forced to do without or share, according to Coach Javier Cid.  As of press time, it was not yet clear what actions would be taken to replace the equipment in time for the team’s league opener game against South Gate on Friday.

L.A. Granted ‘Guest of Honor Status for International Book Fair

(CNS) – The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs received $1.6 million on Sept. 9 from the National Endowment for the Arts to pay the travel expenses of local artists who will attend the 2009 International Book Fair of Guadalajara, it was announced last week.

The city of Los Angeles will be showcased at the fair, which will feature L.A-based artists in more than 100 exhibitions, performances, films, readings and lectures.

“In naming a city as ‘ guest of honor’ for the first time, the Guadalajara International Book Fair honors and recognizes Los Angeles as a vibrant creative center for the arts,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

“For nine days in 2009, Los Angeles literature, film, dance and theater will have a privileged place in the largest celebration of reading and learning in Latin America,” he said.
The festival will run from Nov. 28 to Dec.6 2009.

“Mexican-American Dream 2008” Scholarships Established to Help Immigrant Students

October 2, 2008 by · 6 Comments 

The Council of Mexican Federation in North America (COFEM), a not-for-profit organization serving the immigrant community, along with affiliated federations and The New Partnerships Foundation have established a scholarship program to support immigrant students that deserve equal opportunities and access to higher education this year.

In recognition of student’s financial need, the scholarship will range from $2,000 to $3,000, and be awarded to immigrant students, or descendants of immigrants, who are in good academic standing, participate in extra-curricular activities, have job experience or community participation, and/or demonstrate a unique life story and financial need.

“At the same time that we take a proactive attitude to grant these scholarships to immigrant students, we continue to strongly exhort the Governor to make the California Dream Act a reality; a bill that will allow undocumented students to apply and compete for financial aid.”

Application deadline is Oct.24. All applications should be delivered to COFEM at 125 Paseo de la Plaza, Suite 101, Los Angeles, CA 90012, attn. COFEM Scholarships. For more information visit online:www.cofem.org

Community Calendar: October 2, 2008

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Thursday, October 2
10am-5pm –“Target America: Opening Eyes to the Damage Drugs Cause,”
a special exhibit from the Drug Enforcement Administration, will open in Los Angeles at the California Science Center. The exhibit will explore the science behind illegal drug addiction and the myriad of costs of illegal drugs – to individuals, American society and the world.  The Exhibit begins with an in-depth look at drug production, trafficking and money laundering—in a historical and present-day context. The exhibit runs through May 3, 2009 at the California Science Center located at 700 Exposition Park Drive in Exposition Park, Los Angeles. Parking is $6 in the guest lot at Figueroa and 39th/ Exposition Park Drive.Admission to the California Science Center and Target America exhibit is free. For more information call (323)-SCIENCE or (323) 724-3623.

4:30–5:30pm—High School Habits: Study Guide, a workshop presented by the Central Library, will help teach students how to balance social activities with study requirements. Study habits are important, but so is having a life. Refreshments will be provided. The event is located at the Central Library, 630 W. 5th Street, Los Angeles. For more information call (213) 228-7000.

10am—A Community Cancer Information Forum
where researchers discuss the implications of their research on reducing cancer disparities among diverse and medically-underserved populations. The forum will be held at City of Hope National Cancer Center, Platt Conference Room #3, 1500 E. Duarte Rd. Parking is free. Lunch is included.

Saturday October 4
10am-2pm – Home Owners and Renters Assistance Day,
presented by the Office of John Chiang, California State Controller in collaboration with Amazing Grace Community Church, will assist attendees with Homeowners and Renters assistance, help people fill out 1040A for the Economic Stimulus Payment, Unclaimed Property Search from the State of California and Property Tax Postponement information. Bring your social security card, identification card, social security identification benefits information, supplemental security income payment, property tax bill. If a homeowner or if you rent, bring the name, address and phone number of your landlord. Come anytime between 10am-2pm to get your questions answered at 731 W. 80th Street, Los Angeles. For more information call the State Controller’s Office at (213) 833-6010 or Debbie Johnson at (323) 758-3756

11am-7pm—34th Annual Feria de Los Ninos Celebration of the Children at Hollenbeck Park, presented by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, celebrates the wonder of youth. The event offers families a festive atmosphere with exciting activities including boat rides on the lake in vessels decorated with flowers, a tortilla making contest, an inflatable obstacle course, plenty of ethnic food and entertainment. The event is free. Hollenbeck Park is located at 415 South St. Louis Street. For more information call (323) 261-0113.

3pm–10th Annual Eagle Rock Music Festival: The Center for the Arts and Councilmember Jose Huizar invites you to experience a night of pure musical entertainment by some of the hottest bands in Los Angeles, and world-wide. Artisan exhibits, vendors and food will line Colorado Blvd., through Eagle Rock. Admission is free. For more information call (323) 254-5295

Sunday, October 5
10am–2pm—Yo! Boyle Heights Job Fair,
presented by Councilmember Huizar and Youth Opportunity of Boyle Heights. Meet with over 30 employers who are seeking talented, hard working, and career orientated young people ages 18-24 to recruit for lucrative positions in their respective companies. Don’t miss out on great careers opportunities! The event will be held at Boyle Heights Technology Center, 1600 East 4th Street Los Angeles, CA 90033. For more information call (323) 526-0146

Monday, October 6
6-7pm—Free Computer Classes at the Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library.
Attend the series of basic computer and Internet classes in Spanish on Monday evenings in the library’s Computer Lab for teens and adults. Each class is a 60-minutes, hands-on class designed for people with little or no experience with computers. Modules will include: “Basic Mouse Skills” and the Internet. Classes are free. The Bruggemeyer Library is located at 318 S. Ramona Avenue, Monterey Park. For more information call the Literacy for All of Monterey Park (LAMP) at (626) 307-1251.

Tuesday, October 7
6–8pm—Central Library Start-Up Do’s & Don’ts: Business Entity & Licensing Workshop. Learn everything it takes to start up a business from tax structure and DBA’s to market research and business plans. Learn about start-up resources and research solutions. The event is located at the Central Library 630 W. 5th Street, in Meeting Room A.  For information, call (213) 228-7110.

Wednesday, October 8
9am-3pm—9th Annual Accessible City Expo, presented by the Los Angeles Department on Disability, is a free community resources and employment fair for people with or without disabilities. This expo will feature employment opportunities; job training and placement services; emergency preparedness information; foreclosure solutions; service providers; assistive technology; free health screenings and more.
In addition, workshops will be conducted by the State of California Department of Rehabilitation on how to get a job with the state; HUD and LANHS on “Foreclosure Solutions;” and “How Work Impacts Your Social Security Benefits.” The event is located at the Los Angeles Convention Center-West Hall B, 1201 S. Figueroa St, Los Angeles. For more information call please call the City of Los Angeles Department on Disability at (213) 485-6334 voice, or (213) 485-6655 TTY or visit www.LACity.org/DOD.

Upcoming Events
Saturday, October 11
9am-6pm – 2nd Annual Sharing Festival, presented by the Young Nak Church of Los Angeles. Spend a few hours meeting people and enjoy entertainment, carnival rides, games, music, fire truck display and of course food, food and lots of food. Sharing festival raises funds for local community (all proceeds will go to public and non-profit organizations in Lincoln Heights) and will promote awareness of other noteworthy organizations within the community. The event will continue from 1:30-6pm on Sunday, Oct. 12. All activities will be held at 1721 North Broadway at Ave 18, Los Angeles. For more information call Joey Lee at (323) 227-1414.

El Voto Latino

October 2, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Mientras que las noticias están con los temas de la carrera presidencial del 2008 y con un poco más de un mes antes de que cuenten los votos y declaren un ganador, todavía hay muchos que dicen no saber por quien votar, o incluso si irán a votar

Aunque ni el Senador Barack Obama, Demócrata, o el Senador John McCain, Republicano, hayan pasado mucho tiempo haciendo campaña en California, esa no es razón para no involucrarse, dicen personas trabajando para las campañas y otros interesados en hacer salir a los latinos a votar.

No todos comprenden la importancia de su voto, o que es un derecho, dicen activistas.

Después de las ceremonias de ciudadanía en Los Ángeles, ayuda bilingüe esta disponible para que los nuevos americanos se registran para votar. (EGP Foto por Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Después de las ceremonias de ciudadanía en Los Ángeles, ayuda bilingüe esta disponible para que los nuevos americanos se registran para votar. (EGP Foto por Gloria Angelina Castillo)

“Votar es un derecho que tenemos todos,” dijo Juan García, miembro del grupo Padres del Sureste de Huntington Park. “Para empezar, debemos participar porque una persona que no participa no toma en cuenta en medio de la comunidad.” Si quiere ser representado, entonces vote, él dijo.

En los Estados Unidos, cualquier persona que sea ciudadano legal, de 18 años o más y que no le hayan quitado su derecho a votar por una delito grave, puede votar.

La campaña electoral no es lo único importante en la papeleta de voto, dicen los activistas de “Get Out the Vote.” Hay un número de proposiciones importantes que impactarán a residentes, incluyendo propuestas de salud, seguridad y educación, entre otros.

Nuevos ciudadanos, la mayoría de México y Latinoamérica, han agregado a más de un millón de votantes, pero para tener impacto, deben votar.

Un grupo diverso de organizaciones en Los Angeles trabajan para influir a personas para que voten. Ellos representan varios puntos de vista y afiliaciones políticas, incluyendo Southwest Voter Registration y Padres del Sureste. Con talleres de ciudadanía, programas de radio, visitas de casa-en-casa y otras actividades, su meta es que salgan un masivo numero de votantes el 4 de noviembre.

“Una de las cosas que hacemos es educar a la comunidad,” dice Ana Haney de Padres del Sureste. “Mucha gente no vota porque las proposiciones en la papeleta no son claras. La gente no las entiende, y no votan.”

Mientras muchos votantes de este país se les dificulta leer la mucha información que se circula sobre los partidos y campañas, es mucho más difícil para inmigrantes que no dominan el inglés.

Algunas de las personas que más se esfuerzan para cambiar eso no son elegibles para votar, no son ciudadanos Americanos, pero se interesan en las elecciones.

Sus números crecen, dicen organizadores. Muchos dicen tener mucho que perder o ganar, sea sobre la inmigración o educación, sus vidas aquí y su futuro.

“Deseo poder votar, pero aún no soy ciudadana,” dice María González del Este de Los Ángeles. “Pero mis hijos lo son, y tengo que pelear por sus futuros. Si pudiera votar, lo haría. Pero no puedo, así que trato de convencer a personas con el voto de no gastarlo,” dijo apasionada. “Me estoy informando y explicando los temas, estoy tratando de educarlos.”

González no es la única.

Más gente que quiere votar y no puede se está involucrando, ya sea en una organización o individualmente como González, que dice hablar con los padres de amigos de sus hijos, con parientes y miembros de su iglesia.

“Aunque yo no vote, en mi casa yo junto todos los votos de toda mi familia”, señaló Esther Guzmán, miembro del grupo Padres del Sureste. “Yo pienso que a veces los que no votamos conseguimos más votos”.

“De una manera, somos más apasionados sobre la elección, lo sentimos más,” dice González. “Cuando no tiene ese derecho a votar, no lo tomas en vano, por lo menos así pienso,” dijo.

Muchos Latinos piensan que votar es la única manera de ser escuchados. Muchos de los que hablaron con EGP dijeron estar motivados para poder influir en temas que son importantes a aquellos que no pueden votar: miembros de sus familias, amigos, compañeros de trabajo sobre temas como la reforma migratoria, costo de universidad, ayuda financiera y planes de salud.

“Hay otros que no son ciudadanos pero que son latinos y que están participando,” señaló García. “No pueden votar pero apoyamos a aquellos que si pueden votar, apoyando sus ideas.”

Sixth Grade Added to Murchison Street Elementary

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A group of students from a low-income community in Los Angeles started sixth grade at their elementary school instead of the middle school they were going to be sent to thanks to an effort by their principal, teachers and parents.

For years now, parents from Murchison Street Elementary, in Northeast Los Angeles, had been preoccupied with the change that children experienced when they finished elementary school and went on to the area’s middle school.

At El Sereno Middle School, students began to feel the pressure and even the attraction of gangs. “There are 105 children, the majority being Latino,” explained Margarita Gutierrez, principal of the elementary school.

“To get to the middle school, students would have to take the bus, because they have to cross the train tracks which isn’t safe, and there’s no other way to get there,” said the educator.

Because they arrive on the bus, other students call them “from the other side of the tracks” and they link them to Ramona Gardens, a residential project that has been linked to gang violence.

“They are stigmatized and unfortunately the children have to suffer it,” added the principal, who says that when stereotyped, “they look for the protection of the older kids and that’s when they hang out with youth who are in gangs.”

Murchison is not the only school to have added a sixth grade.

“Various schools in the area have added sixth grade, we’re not the only ones. The difference is that our community has been trying to add not only a sixth grade, but also seventh and eighth grades,” she added.

Also, adding a sixth grade has helped the school’s budget.

“It saved teacher positions. That was good for the school but it also meant a challenge for the rest of the teachers who have never taught at that grade level,” said Gutierrez.

The challenge of teaching at that level with that academic competitiveness is attractive to teachers.

“I think the kids are really enjoying the changes in going from one classroom to another and the added responsibility,” said Sandra Romero, one of the three teachers teaching sixth grade. “Responsibilities like helping with the teaching material and activity collaboration or taking notes that will help with homework,” said Romero, who coordinates the project.

Students feel more content because they are the oldest in the school, and are safe and cared for.

For the principal, teacher support has been essential, however, even while it’s clear that students are “socially more at peace, we also need them to have a good learning experience here,” said Gutierrez, who emphasizes the need for good academic results.

The principal meets monthly with parents from the sixth grade to evaluate the progress of the project and to make recommendations and changes accordingly.

“Information is exchanged and they make a report of the support they offer at home,” she said. At those meetings, they are also discussing the future because although adding a sixth grade was relatively easy, continuing with seventh and eighth grade raises different questions.

“The school should have the necessary equipment for the sciences like laboratories and for physical education so kids can change clothes and we don’t have that here yet,” she said.

Gutierrez also thinks they should prepare them for the future.

“Parents and teachers should have communication with the middle school. Because if we don’t resolve these problems, they will occur in high school and if the students are not prepared, the same thing will happen.”
For now, these 105 students who on average are 11 years of age, have entered a change more favorable and secure for their education.

Mayor to Host ‘Community Budget Day’

October 2, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

The City of Los Angeles is opening its doors to the public with series of workshops and a budget presentation by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at City Hall on Oct 11. The Community Budget Day and Congress of Neighborhoods will both take place at City Hall. This year will be the first time that the two events will be held on the same day. The Citywide Congress of Neighborhoods Planning Committee voted to combine the two events during its first meeting back on Aug 11.

The mayor will introduce his budget priorities and provide in-depth information about the state of the City’s budget. The event is held to provide residents the opportunity to comment on the proposed fiscal year 2009-2010 budget. On Monday, the mayor announced an ambitious five-year affordable housing plan to construct 20,000 units at a cost of $5 billion. The plan is the first master housing plan that includes all five-city departments responsible for housing. The 20,000 units are designed for families with incomes between, less than $29,000 to $90,000 including 2,200 units for the chronically homeless.

The initiative will be financed over five years with $1 billion from existing city resources. The remaining $4 billion will come from low-income housing bonds, tax credit equity, grants and private sector loans. Enterprise Community Partners has already announced a $100 million trust and has committed $700 million for the initiative.

Last week, the City News Service reported the mayor said that he expects to face a $400 million deficit for the 2009-2010 year. The City’s revenues from sales, property and business taxes is expected to drop.
On the day of the event, attendees will be able to fill out a survey to express their budget priorities. For those who cannot attend the event, the survey will be available on the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) Web site at www.lacityneighborhoods.com no later than Oct 11. The open session with the mayor, open to the general public, will begin at 8 a.m. and run until 11 a.m. in the Council Chambers located on the third floor of City Hall. The mayor is scheduled to speak from 8:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Immediately following the mayor’s presentation, the Congress of Neighborhoods is scheduled to begin. The Congress of Neighborhoods is a series of workshops scheduled throughout the day that provide residents with the details of how a neighborhood council (NC) should operate effectively to maximize city resources. Deanne Stevenson, a project manager with DONE, said the conference is a tool for all residents to come to City Hall and build important networks to improve their neighborhoods. The event will include numerous opportunities to build new alliances for any neighborhood organization she said. Session one, which starts at 9:45 a.m., will feature two workshops that will focus on neighborhood council elections and funding projects.

Session two, which runs from 11a.m. to 12:30 p.m. will feature a series of nine different workshops. During session three, scheduled from 1:00p.m. to 3:00p.m., seven of the nine workshops will repeat. Among the workshops, “NC Alliances Can Make a Real Difference in Your Community and Your Region,” and “Assuring NC Board Continuity and Long-Term Success” are both two-part workshops with part one scheduled for session two and part two scheduled for session three. Included among the workshops are open forums with city officials including forums with the City Council, DWP’s General Manager David Nahal and representatives of the City Attorney’s Office.

BongHwan Kim, general manager of DONE, stated in a press release that the combination of the two events would maximize resources and potentially increase attendance. The workshops will allow residents who are not already involved in neighborhood councils or community groups to gain an understanding on how community organizations operate to serve the needs of its residents.

Al Abrams, a member of the City’s Board of Neighborhood Commissioners, said, “It is critical that the people of Los Angeles have the opportunity to understand the way the City’s budget works. Knowledge of the City’s budget is the pathway to power in Los Angeles.”

This event is a great way for residents who are not involved with their neighborhood councils to learn and network with city officials said Kim. He added that his goal as general manager is to get more people involved with neighborhood councils. The neighborhood councils were set up to allow more people to have direct access to city government he said.

The two events include free parking, childcare and food.  To register online visit, www.lacityneighborhoods.com or call (213) 485-1360. City Hall is located at 200 N. Spring St, Los Angeles, Calif, 90012.

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