October 20, 2011 Issue

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$2 Millones en Mercancías Robadas Fueron Incautados de un Negocio en el Este de Los Ángeles

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Lea esta nota EN INGLÉS: $2 Million in Stolen Goods Seized at East LA Business

Agentes del Departamento del Alguacil del Condado de Los Ángeles la semana pasada descubrieron $2 millones en artículos electrónicos robados dentro de un negocio en el Este de Los Ángeles, el departamento del alguacil anunció el 16 de octubre.

Foto cortesía del Departamento del Alguacil del Condado de Los Ángeles

 

El descubrimiento fue hecho a las 11am el 13 de octubre cuando agentes se ponían en contacto con los empleados de la empresa ubicada en la cuadra 1200 de South Eastern Avenue y vieron paquetes retractilados de equipos electrónicos sobre paletas de madera.

“Las paletas son similares a las utilizadas para los envíos y parecían ser valiosos,” dice el comunicado de prensa. “Basado en su investigación preliminar y considerando que la mercancía podía haber sido robada, los agentes del Alguacil de la Estación del Este de Los Ángeles se comunicaron con los investigadores de la Oficina de Crímenes Graves / investigadores CAT con el Departamento del Condado de Los Angeles Alguacil.”

Los investigadores determinaron que los artículos electrónicos y otros objetos fueron robados. La mercancía se describe como nuevas televisiones de pantalla plana, equipos de estéreo para hogares y automóviles, proyectores comerciales DLP, ropa, cerámica y piedra.

Los artículos fueron confiscados y no hubo arrestos en el lugar, una investigación está en curso.

Grupo Ambiental Demanda a los Ferrocarriles por la Contaminación

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Un grupo de legislación ambiental el martes demandó a los dos ferrocarriles principales que operan en Los Ángeles, alegando que la contaminación del diésel por sus trenes está causando problemas de salud para los residentes que viven cerca de sus patios de ferrocarriles.

La queja por el Consejo de la Defensa de Recursos Naturales (Natural Resources Defense Council) presentada en la corte federal de Los Ángeles busca responsabilizar a Union Pacific Railroad y Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. por lo que sostienen son problemas médicos sufridos por las personas que viven cerca de los patios de ferrocarril en Carson, en la Ciudad de Commerce y el Centro de Los Ángeles.

Lea esta nota EN INGLÉS: Environmental Group Sues Railroads Over Local Pollution

La demanda busca demostrar que existen daños y forzar que los ferrocarriles limpien los patios de ferrocarril. Investigaciones demuestran que la contaminación por diésel está relacionado con el cáncer, el asma y otras condiciones respiratorias y cardíacas, de acuerdo con los litigantes. Los demandantes incluyen East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, y Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice.

La demanda representa a “cientos de miles de californianos” que viven cerca de 17 estaciones ferroviarias del Estado, de acuerdo con el comunicado de prensa de NRDC. Algunas de estas personas viven en Commerce y el Este de Los Ángeles y han sido gravemente afectados por la contaminación de los terminales de ferroviaria, dice Angelo Logan, director ejecutivo de East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice.

“Durante mucho tiempo nuestras comunidades han sufrido el impacto de la contaminación mortal del diésel de los patios de ferrocarril cercanos,” dijo Logan. “Es hora que las compañías de ferrocarriles corrijan los errores que han impuesto sobre los residentes de California. Es hora que Union Pacific y BNF se conviertan en buenos vecinos.”

Logan y otros litigantes argumentan que las compañías de ferrocarriles desde hace mucho tiempo han ignorado la Ley de Conservación de Recursos y Recuperación, RCRA. Bajo esta ley, “si eres una empresa y liberas la contaminación tóxica, estás obligado a eliminarlo o reducirlo de modo que la salud pública no este en riesgo,” él dijo.

El abogado principal de NRDC David Pettit dijo que “la industria ferroviaria está sujeta a las mismas leyes que otros grandes contaminadores” y “debe ser responsabilizado por los problemas de salud que sus operaciones causan.”

Las personas que viven cerca de los patios de ferrocarril, en lugares como San Bernardino “deben tener la misma calidad de aire como las personas que viven en Beverly Hills,” él dijo.

Lena Kent, portavoz de BNSF con sede en Fort Worth, Texas, caracterizó la demanda como parte de una serie de ataques contra “la industria del transporte de mercancías,” y dijo que los ferrocarriles han logrado reducir las emisiones y la compañía ha comprado locomotoras nuevas y más limpias.

“Hemos gastado millones de dólares para hacer nuestra justa parte de asegurar que los ferrocarriles respeten el medioambiente, y el NRDC completamente ignora nuestros esfuerzos,” ella dijo. “Es frustrante.”

Aaron Hunt, portavoz de Union Pacific con sede en Omaha, Nebraska, dijo que la compañía aún no ha visto la demanda pero sostuvo que el ferrocarril se encuentra en cumplimiento con las regulaciones estatales y federales, y recientemente recibió el premio Excelencia de Aire Limpio por la Agencia de Protección Ambiental (EPA) de los EE.UU.

“Estamos orgullosos de nuestro papel de liderazgo en la industria ferroviaria en cuanto a hacer las pruebas y desarrollar la tecnología que mejora la eficiencia del combustible, reduce las emisiones y proporciona soluciones sostenibles de transporte de carga que apoyan a la economía de Estados Unidos,” él dijo.

Antes de someter la demanda, los abogados de NRDC pidieron que las compañías de ferrocarriles en 90 días redujeran los contaminantes dañinos. Los métodos sugeridos incluyen el uso de locomotoras, camiones y equipos que cumplen con estrictos estándares de emisiones del EPA, tales como los vehículos eléctricos, la adopción de dispositivos de control de ralentí y la prohibición de marcha en vacío cerca de las residencias, y la modernización de sus equipos. Sin embargo, “no hubo avances o cualquier esfuerzo de buena fe por la UP o BNSF para hacer frente los contaminantes,” según el NRDC.

Grupo Reta la Exactitud del Estudio Fiscal del Este de LA

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Los proponentes del esfuerzo para elevar a ciudad al Este de Los Ángeles, presentaron el lunes una solicitud para que el Contralor del Estado revise el estudio financiero realizado para determinar si la zona posee la capacidad para sostenerse como una ciudad independiente.

La Asociación de Residentes del Este de Los Ángeles (ELARA) espera que la Oficina del Contralor John Chiang llevará a cabo una “auditoría forense” del Análisis Fiscal Exhaustivo (CFA), el presidente del grupo, Benjamín Cárdenas, dijo a EGP el martes.

ELARA siente que el estudio se basa en fórmulas y en estimaciones que no reflejan la verdadera viabilidad de la zona.

Vista de la Ciudad de Los Angeles desde City Terrace, en la zona no incorporada del Este de Los Ángeles.

 

“Esta ha sido una misión de investigación de cuatro años, estamos tratando de honrar a las firmas de las personas que autorizaron el Análisis Fiscal Exhaustivo cuando firmaron la petición,” dijo Cárdenas a EGP.

“El condado no quieren honrar ninguna de nuestras peticiones… han ignorado todas las peticiones que presentamos,” dijo Cárdenas. “El condado no está interesado en encontrar un plan a largo plazo de recuperación económica para el Este de Los Ángeles…”

ELARA quiere que el Condado de Los Ángeles continué a financiar las bibliotecas de la zona y el Parque Belvedere entre otras sugerencias destinadas a reducir el déficit calculado en el CFA.

“El CFA tomó al pie de la letra los datos que se presentaron… Nuestras opciones y soluciones, no sólo fueron ignoradas por el consultor que hizo el estudio, pero ahora también están siendo ignorados por el condado,” él dijo.

Lea esta nota EN INGLÉS: Group Formally Challenges Accuracy of East LA Fiscal Study

Cárdenas dijo a EGP que ELARA espera que los residentes del Este de Los Ángeles tendrán la oportunidad de votar sobre la incorporación, ya que parece que el condado no está dispuesto a armar un plan de recuperación económico para la zona que tiene la población décima más grande del condado.

La revisión del CFA por el Contralor ahora demora hasta el 11 de enero, de 2012, la audiencia pública por la Comisión de la Agencia Local de Formación de Los Ángeles (LAFCO) sobre la incorporación del Este de Los Ángeles, de acuerdo con el oficial ejecutivo de LAFCO Paul Novak. Se anticipa que la revisión durará 45 días, sin embargo, la fecha podría cambiar de nuevo si la revisión requiere más tiempo, él dijo.

La oficina del Contralor del Estado ha recibido la solicitud, confirmó el portavoz de Chiang, Jacob Roper. El Controlador Chiang apoyó la recolección de firmas para exigir al CFA, pero esto no causará prejuicio a la revisión, dijo Roper.

“Cualquier revisión por esta oficina sólo examinará los méritos de la auditoría financiera,” él dijo.

El costo de la revisión no es financiado por los contribuyentes de impuestos, ELARA pagó el depósito de $25.000.

East LA, Where The Animals Graze

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The 4-H headquarters at the UC Cooperative Extension in East Los Angeles hosted a Pet Symposium on Saturday where 4-H clubs and animal and shelter organizations from around the county showcased their chickens, sheep, cats, and dogs, and gave informational lectures on topics such as how to keep turtles as pets.Local residents also brought their pets to take advantage of the free vaccinations.

4-H clubs began as a youth farm club started by the University of California, and has since grown beyond its rural roots to more than 29 urban communities in Los Angeles, including Highland Park, Eagle Rock and Altadena.

The club is open to youth, ages 5 to 19, and stresses community service, leadership, and learning by doing. Members can choose among 80 projects, which include not just caring for animals, but also arts projects and volunteering.

Is that egg blue? On right, Snowball, Taffy, and Alice of Pomona show off their tail feathers and their blue eggs in East Los Angeles.(EGP photo by Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou)

Diverse Groups Support Los Angeles’ Occupation

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Los Angeles-area teachers this week were among the groups to publicly endorse the “Occupy LA” protesters who have been camped out at Los Angeles City Hall all month.

Immigration rights activists have also joined the growing ranks of the Occupy LA protest movement.

Protesters held a march and rally last Saturday in solidarity with a global protest that included numerous cities from across the U.S. and throughout the world. For the most part, protesters expressed anger at the poor state of the economy and the inability of elected officials to turn things around.

However, unlike the most recent protests in the Los Angeles area where the vast majority of demonstrators were Latinos calling for immigration reform, this latest protest movement is diverse in its makeup. Whites, Asians, Latinos, Blacks, Middle Easterners, young and old, college graduates, executive types and laborers are among the group’s ranks. Protesters say they are angry about the lack of jobs, their dwindling savings, home foreclosures, higher cost of living, shrinking paychecks and the higher cost of education.

They carried signs vilifying Wall Street financial institutions, corporations and elected officials for creating the financial meltdown that has led to where we are today. While the protest was somewhat organic, allowing for a variety of issues to be included, most protesters complained about corporate greed and the growing income disparity, which they say has led to “the rich getting rich and the poor getting poorer.”

Protesters make a statement with signs and a peaceful protest at the City Hall encampment. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

 

Violence and civil disobedience marked some protests in other parts of the country and internationally, but the Oct. 15 protest in Los Angeles was a peaceful event, where people from all walks of life displayed their home-made posters and posed for pictures by media and protestors alike.

32-year-old Erick Gurreola, a resident of Boyle Heights, was one of the protestors who reeked of legitimacy and determination—showers were not available to over-night campers until recently.
“A lot of people are here for a lot of different reasons,” Gurreola said, noting that he is protesting social inequality and economic disparity because “not everyone is equal as we are meant to believe.”

“Some people have more power than others and they get treated differently and we are not all equal. Some people are suffering more than others. There’s no food, no jobs…” he explained.
Gurreola hopes the protest will help bring about changes for future generations. His two younger brothers, ages 19 and 23, are also spending their nights on the South Lawn outside City Hall. They have the blessing of their parents who see it as a civics lesson, Mrs. and Ms. Gurreola told EGP.

Read this story IN SPANISH: Grupos Diversos Apoyan la Ocupación de Los Ángeles

While some visiting protesters on Saturday walked their dogs, Javier Rodriguez, a 24-year-old Cypress Park resident, kept his cat on a leash and nestled between his legs as he sat with friends.

Rodriguez has been camped out at City Hall since Oct.1, and told EGP the protesters want to send a message to the world and to corporations that greed and inequality are out of control.

“We need to reclaim that money back, take it back to our neighborhoods for basic human needs,” he said. “I do feel the oppression … I can’t afford to go to school, I live on a week-to-week paycheck… that’s no way to plan a future,” he said.

Rodriguez said the atmosphere has been consistently friendly, with drums often playing in the background. “We are just staying here and helping each other out,” he said.

Despite the feelings of camaraderie, the encampment is not a utopia. Rodriguez said participants have had to confront others who have been “out of line.”

“We go up to them and confront them about it. We deal with it ourselves so we don’t have to get the cops involved,” he said.

17-year-olds Ali, a Franklin High School student, and Sara, a student at the Sotomayor Learning Academies, were among the visiting protesters on Saturday who wanted to show their support for the overnighters and to protest the bleak future America seems to be headed toward.

“We feel like we are part of a movement, we want to see that our world is going to go in the right direction,” Sara said. “Us, as youth, we are not just going to let it go to waste, we are not just going to let it go into turmoil.”

L.A. County Approves Citizens Commission on Jail Reforms

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The Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to establish a citizens commission to review the use of force in county jails and formally asked Sheriff Lee Baca to make changes in how the jails are run.
Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mark Ridley-Thomas recommended forming a five-person commission, with each of the five supervisors nominating a candidate by Nov. 1, which the board approved on a 5-0 vote.

The commission will conduct a “review of the nature, depth and cause of the problem of inappropriate deputy use of force in the jails, and recommend corrective action as necessary.”

Supervisor Gloria Molina suggested going a step further, asking to immediately implement recommendations made by the county’s Special Counsel Merrick Bobb and the Office of Independent Review, and the board unanimously agreed.

The moves come on the heels of an Oct. 3 report by the American Civil Liberties Union on the pervasive use of violence, intimidation and excessive force by deputies in the county jail system, supported in part by eyewitness reports from private citizens volunteering in the jails, including a chaplain.

The FBI is also investigating alleged abuses and corruption in the jail system.

Some of the recommendations made by Bobb and the OIR include:
— installing surveillance cameras in the jails within 30 days;
— eliminating the use of heavy flashlights as batons to subdue inmates, substituting batons, if necessary;
— forbidding all head strikes, unless the standard for lethal force has been met;
— rotating deputies between floors at least every six months;
— enforcing an existing anti-retaliation policy against inmates who speak to lawyers or activists about jail conditions;
— ensuring that the most severe use of force investigations are completed within 30 days and that all are completed within 60 to 90 days;
— developing a plan for more intense supervision;
— mandating that medical personnel report all suspicious inmate injuries to the Internal Affairs Unit or the jail captain; and

Molina also asked the county’s chief executive officer look at the costs and feasibility of having deputies wear individual video cameras.

She said the county has paid more than $12.4 million in liability and legal costs to resolve claims of excessive force and failure to protect jail inmates in the past three years.

Sheriff Lee Baca is expected to come before the Board of Supervisors to discuss possible fixes within the next two weeks.

By law, Baca, an elected official, is ultimately in charge of the jail system. The Board of Supervisors is limited in its authority to tell him what to do.

Peter Eliasberg, legal director for the ACLU of Southern California, said a consent decree might be needed to force the sheriff’s hand, calling county jails “totally dysfunctional.” A lawsuit can be settled by a judgment called a consent decree, sometimes used by the federal government to enforce changes by state or local governments.

“One way that we can guarantee … that the recommendations be accepted is that they be adopted through a consent decree,” Eliasberg said.

“Many of these reforms were first proposed … over a year ago — yet they still haven’t been implemented,” Molina said. “The very credibility of the Sheriff’s Department is at stake. Its integrity can be restored only if Sheriff Baca and his team wholeheartedly accept reform.”

Sheriff Department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said Tuesday that Baca was open to the reforms suggested by the board. “Anything to improve the custody environment,” Nishida said.

She said the department was already in the process of installing 69 surveillance cameras at the Men’s Central Jail downtown.

Eliasberg urged the board to appoint commissioners with substantial corrections experience, including those who have worked to turn around failed jail systems.

In a phone call following the board meeting, he said the board’s proposals were all good, “but the reality is that there’s a rotten culture” in the jail system where deputies “feel confident that they won’t be caught.”

The code of silence that protects deputies that mistreat prisoners has to be addressed, Eliasberg said.

Report: Medicaid Cuts Would Harm Minorities

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Article originally published in New America Media.

Any cuts to Medicaid—poses a danger to African America and Latinos, groups disproportionately suffering from high rates of chronic disease and lack of health insurance, according to a study released last week.

According to the report “Medicaid: A Lifeline for Blacks and Latinos with Serious Health Care Needs,” about one in four African Americans and Hispanics with heart disease or who survived a stroke rely on the state- and federally-funded health insurance program for low-income Americans.

For example, of the more than 200,000 blacks with diabetes in California, 32.5 percent are on Medi-Cal (the state’s name for Medicaid), while among the states nearly 80,000 Latinos with diabetes, 28.4 percent are on Medi-Cal.

The report was released by a consortium of organizations, including Families USA, the American Diabetes Association, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Council of La Raza. It contends that any cuts to Medicaid would have dangerous consequences for the seriously ill people among them.

Cuts Possible From Congress’ “Super Committee”
The report comes as the congressional “super committee” debates ways to reduce the federal debt by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. The committee of 12 powerful members of Congress, half from each party, has been charged with crafting a plan for cuts or tax increases that Congress must vote up or down with no further debate.

Vying for the committee’s approval are Medicaid reduction included in the controversial deficit proposal passed earlier this year by House Republicans. It would have reduced the National Debt partly through sweeping changes to both Medicare and Medicaid.

Drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., who chairs the House Budget Committee, the GOP plan would overturn the new health care reform law. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is designed to expand both programs and make it more attractive for doctors to accept Medicaid patients.

Under the GOP plan, Medicaid would switch to a block-grant system, meaning, the federal government would allocate a block of money to each state, giving them more flexibility in how they tailor their programs for the poor.

Although the GOP bill died in the Senate, Ryan’s ideas are now before the super committee. This weekend, however, the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) sent the committee its recommendations, opposing cuts to Medicaid because reductions would merely shift costs to states.

“We strongly oppose any block-grant approach, especially the one contained in the House-passed budget resolution,” says the DGA letter. The governors cite the Congressional Budget Office estimate that block- granting the program “would reduce federal funding for Medicaid by 35 percent in 2022 and 49 percent by 2030.”

“Instead,” suggests the DGA letter, “policy makers should find a way to implement patient-focused management tools, such as integrated care models like medical homes and other delivery system reforms that could improve quality of care and lower cost.” These community-care reforms are written into the ACA.

In California, the number of Medi-Cal patients is expected to grow from its current 7 million to 10.5 million by 2019, under the new law.

Currently, the federal government matches from 50-75 percent of the program’s funding, depending on the extent of poverty in each state.

“People Will Die”
Kathleen Stoll, deputy executive director of Families USA, noted that in general, “Medicaid is a pretty lean and efficient program.”

“There’s no loose change for states to take out of Medicaid,” she asserted, noting that cuts in the program could mean “people will die.”

Earlier this year, California Governor Jerry Brown released a proposal calling for $1.7 billion in cuts to MediCal to reduce the state’s budget deficit. Among other things, those cuts include reducing by 10 percent providers’ reimbursement and limiting physician visits to seven per year. The federal government is yet to approve those adjustments.

Meanwhile, providers have sued the state for proposing cuts in reimbursement. Based on that case, the U.S. Supreme Court is deliberating on whether to allow such parties to sue states at all. (The Obama Administration argues that states should not be sued because the Department of Health and Human Services is mandated to enforce Medicaid’s standards of coverage, even though, patent-care advocates contend, the department lacks the staff to do so.)

It is as yet unclear how Medi-Cal patients would be affected by Brown’s proposed cuts. But Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, a health care advocacy group based in Sacramento, noted Medi-Cal cuts enacted in 2009, include the elimination of 10 medically necessary benefits, such as dental care.

Those cuts, Wright said, “are having a significant impact on hundreds of thousands of black, Latino and other Californians.”

Environmental Group Sues Railroads Over Local Pollution

October 20, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

An environmental law group Tuesday sued the two major railroads operating in Los Angeles, alleging that diesel pollution from their trains is causing health problems for residents living near the yards.

Read this story IN SPANISH: Grupo Ambiental Demanda a los Ferrocarriles por la Contaminación

The Natural Resources Defense Council’s complaint, filed in Los Angeles federal court, seeks to hold Union Pacific Railroad and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. accountable for what it contends are medical problems suffered by those living near rail yards in Carson, Commerce and downtown Los Angeles.

The lawsuit seeks to prove harm and force the railroads to clean up the rail yards. Research shows diesel pollution is linked to cancer, asthma, and other respiratory and heart conditions, according to the litigants. Groups suing include East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, and the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice.

The suit represents “hundreds of thousands of Californians” who live near the state’s 17 railyards, according to NRDC’s press release. Some of these people live in Commerce and East Los Angeles and have been severely affected by railyard pollution, says Angelo Logan, executive director for East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice.

EYCEJ Executive Director Angelo Logan, pictured, says they have been urging railroad companies in Commerce to reduce their pollution levels for years.

“For too long our communities have borne the brunt of deadly diesel pollution from nearby rail yards,” Logan said. “It is time the railroad companies right the wrongs that they have imposed on California residents. It is time that Union Pacific and BNFS become good neighbors.”

Logan and other litigants argue that the railroad companies have long disregarded the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, RCRA. Under this act, “if you are a company and you release toxic pollution, you are required to either eliminate or reduce it so that public health is not at risk,” he said.

NRDC senior attorney David Pettit said the “rail industry is subject to the same laws as other major polluters,” and “must be held accountable for the health problems their operations cause.”

People who live near rail yards in places like San Bernardino “should have the same quality of air as people living in Beverly Hills,” he said.

Lena Kent, a spokeswoman for Fort Worth, Texas-based BNSF, characterized the suit as one of a series of attacks on “the goods movement industry,” and said the railroad has successfully reduced emissions and purchased new, cleaner locomotives.

“We’ve spent millions of dollars to do our fair share to ensure the railroads are environmentally friendly, and the NRDC completely ignores our efforts,” she said. “It’s frustrating.”

Aaron Hunt, a spokesman for Omaha, Neb.-based Union Pacific, said the company had not yet seen the filing, but maintained that the railroad is in compliance with state and federal regulations and recently received a Clean Air Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“We are proud of our rail industry leadership role in testing and developing technology that improves fuel efficiency, reduces emissions and provides sustainable freight transportation solutions that support America’s economy,” he said.

Before suing, NRDC attorneys gave the railroad companies 90 days to reduce harmful pollutants. Methods included using locomotives, trucks and equipment that meet stringent EPA emission standards, such as electric vehicles; adopting idling control devices and prohibiting idling near residences, and fleet modernization. However, “no progress was made or any good faith effort on behalf of UP or BNSF to address the pollutants,” according to NRDC.

Becerra Talks Cuts During Phone-In Town Hall

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U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-31), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, held a telephonic town hall meeting on Oct. 13 to discuss his role on the Join Select Committee on Deficit Reduction and to listen to his constituents’ concerns.

Becerra was named to the 12-member “super committee” in August, as part of the agreement to raise the debt-ceiling limit and avoid defaulting on the nation’s debt.

The cuts aimed at reducing the size of the deficit are focused on domestic discretionary programs, Becerra said.

“Education, healthcare, highways, mass transit, water clean up, food safety—all that is domestic discretionary programs. All those are going to suffer $1 trillion in cuts and services over the next 10 years along with Dept. of Defense and Homeland Security which will be part of that as well,” Becerra explained during the phone call that lasted about an hour.

The committee is composed of six senators and six members of the House, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, who are tasked with identifying $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years. Failure to do so by the Dec. 23rd deadline could trigger additional cuts agreed to as part of the debt-ceiling deal, but which many Democrats hoped the super committee would negotiate a way out of.

“Many of us are trying to do more because at this stage, we are trying to kick start the economy and hopefully start creating those jobs. Because if you’re back to work, you’re paying taxes, and if you’re paying taxes, the treasury is growing in its receipts and if the treasury is growing in its receipts, your deficit is getting a lot smaller,” Becerra told callers.

The group has until Nov. 23 to report their Congress, so they can vote on the cuts by Dec. 23.
The committee is also required to identify another $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next decade.
“If this super committee can devise a proposal that comes up with at least $1.2 trillion in cuts, than the automatic triggers that force this additional 1.2 trillion dollars in cuts would not be needed,” Becerra said.

However, if Congress does not approve the proposal, the $1.2 trillion in cuts will be made in 2013, he said.

A couple of the questions from the audience focused on job creation. Becerra said the most recent jobs report from the Dept. of Labor indicated that 103,000 new jobs had been added—but noted gains made in the private sector were offset by job losses at every level of the public sector.

“We need to create about 100,000 to 125,000 jobs a month in order to keep pace with people entering the workforce and those who have been long-term unemployed and are not even counted in the statistics of the unemployed,” he said.

Unemployment figures put the number of unemployed Americans at 14 or 15 million, but when you factor in people who are under-employed it’s closer to 20 million,” he added.

Becerra, disappointed that Congress has not passed the President’s Jobs Act, said partisan politics is having a real impact on Americans.

“After ten months without action on jobs, it is time for the Republican majority in Congress to stop saying ‘no’ to pro-growth proposals and start taking action to put millions of Americans back to work. President Obama’s American Jobs Act includes bipartisan ideas that have traditionally found bipartisan support … The American people have waited long enough for Republicans to put forward their own jobs bill,” Becerra said in a statement earlier this month.

He also recalled his first year in Congress when President Bill Clinton took measures to deal with the recession. Clinton balanced the budget by cutting programs and services by half of the deficit and increasing taxes to make up for the other half, he said. But he stressed that members of congress don’t agree on how to create jobs or reduce the deficit.

An Echo Park resident who said his name was Craig, asked Becerra not to increase the age for social security eligibility since “persons in the top one percent” are those who have a longer life expectancy.

Becerra agreed, noting that his own father held physically strenuous jobs all his life and by age 50 it showed. To raise the retirement age to get money to pay for deficits caused by things, other than Social Security, is a cruel way to show Americans we are all in the same boat together, he said.

Responding to Michael in Atwater, Becerra said he couldn’t pledge to keep Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security as they are now, because everything needs to be considered.

“The moment I get to remove something from that table for consideration, one of my colleagues can say we can take this other thing off the table, and the next thing we know the table won’t have anything else left except the things that are easiest to cut because the most defenseless will be the folks that are going to be hurt,” he said. “But just because I’m willing to put everything on the table doesn’t mean I’m not going to fight like the dickens to keep those things that don’t deserve to be on the table … off.”

Becerra said he would fight to make sure “Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security programs that are essential to Americans are not the first thing on the chopping block to pay for things like the War in Afghanistan, and tax cuts to the wealthy of this country.”

The Town Hall included discussion on the wars, the “Occupy” protests around the country, green jobs and mention of the recent redistricting that has changed the boundaries of Becerra’s district. He will no longer be representing Atwater or Echo Park.

A recording of the Oct. 13 telephone Town Hall is available online at: http://becerra.house.gov/images/stories/podcast/TeleTownHall_10-13-2011.mp3

To read more about Becerra’s stance on national issues visit Becerra.house.gov

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