Lincoln Beats Franklin, 13-6 in League Opener, Stays Unbeaten

October 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Lincoln High School hasn’t won a Northern League football title since 1991, but the Tigers took a major step toward winning their first since then by defeating longtime nemesis Franklin, 13-6, last Friday in the league opener.

It was Lincoln’s first victory over Franklin since 1991 and it kept Coach Albert Carrillo’s Tigers undefeated this season as they raised their record to 6-0 before an overflow crowd at Lincoln.

Linebacker Andrew Medrano had a big night for the Tigers. The senior, who is arguably one of the top players in the City Section, returned an interception 59 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.

It was the game’s only score until the fourth quarter, when Franklin scored with less than five minutes remaining. Trailing 7-6, the Panthers (4-2, 0-1) missed a chance for victory when their two-point conversion attempt failed.

After forcing Lincoln to punt, Franklin muffed the punt and the Tigers recovered the ball at the Panthers’ two-yard line.

Lincoln’s Carlos Duran ran it in from there with a minute remaining, increasing the lead to the final margin of victory.

Assistant coach and 1988 Lincoln graduate Gabe Cotero called it one of the greatest wins in the school’s long history.

“It was really great to see the smiles on all the kids’ faces and to see all the alumni and former players that turned out so happy,” Cotero said. “It was just a great night. I didn’t want it to end.”

Besides the interception return, Medrano had seven solo tackles and two sacks.

Cotero also said another key was the stellar play of cornerbacks Jimmy Acosta and Albert Oliden.

“They made it tough on Franklin and they tackled real well,” said Cotero, who coaches the defensive backs.

Duran finished the game with 75 yards on 16 rushing attempts and quarterback Brando Lopez completed six of 9 passes for 57 yards.

Lincoln (1-0 in league) plays Eagle Rock (2-4, 1-0) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Eagle Rock.

Eagle Rock opened league by defeating Roybal, 19-0.

Franklin takes on Marshall (4-2, 1-0) at 3 p.m. Friday at Marshall.

October 21 2010 Issue

October 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Commerce Elementary School Faces Closure

October 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

This may be the last school year for Laguna Nueva Elementary in Commerce, according to Montebello Unified School District officials.

Talk of closure has regularly threatened the district’s youngest school where, since 1996, classes have been taught out of a collection of portable bungalows set up on an empty lot in an industrial part of town. Those talks became more serious this month.

Officials made a “business decision” to recommend dissolving the kindergarten through eighth grade school, with plans to “repurpose” the facility for adult education and community classes, or other programs.

Upon hearing of the plans from the school’s principal, several parents and students took to a district board meeting on Oct. 7 to support their school, with some saying they would “simply go to another district” if the board were to cease its kindergarten through eighth grade program at Laguna Nueva.

Officials of Montebello Unified to hold community meetings to discuss possible closure of Laguna Nueva Elementary School. (EGP photo by Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou)

Parents praised the school for quality teachers and staff and called the environment a “safe haven” despite the temporary facilities and the lack of a gym, cafeteria, lockers and other amenities. Some parents even took exception to district officials focusing on the limited facilities when they brought their children to the school, by permit, because of the teachers and staff. Laguna, which enrolls 700 students, has a “small school” feel to it, one parent said.

But district officials said the school was never “built out,” despite plans early on to construct a more permanent facility. It started as a temporary school that took in overflow students from Rosewood Park Elementary when the district had higher enrollment.

Now enrollment has declined and it would be better to fill empty classrooms in other schools, District Superintendent Bo Henke told EGP after the board meeting. Students often pass other schools before they get to Laguna Nueva, he said. The school is located on Garfield Avenue, on the border of Bell Gardens.

The school district could use the $650,000 saved by moving students to schools in Bell Gardens and Commerce, and teachers to other schools, said officials who addressed some concerns at a faculty and staff meeting last Thursday. The savings would equal eight teachers, said Cheryl Plotkins, superintendent in charge of the district’s finances.

The district would save money because it would be eliminating the cost of administrators such as the principal, as well as the cost of bus transportation at a school that has more bussing than most, Deputy Superintendant Art Revueltas said at the meeting.

A student at Laguna Nueva costs more than a student at another school, he said.

The decision to close Laguna Nueva is not final since the board has not signed off on it, but officials say they are serious about it.

To make sure they have not missed something, however, district officials told teachers and staff they are setting up a committee, consisting of staff, faculty, parents, and other stakeholders, and holding a series of meetings in the next two months.

As district officials met with faculty and staff in one of the school’s bungalows last Thursday, parents waited outside to pick up their children.

On most afternoons, parents gather at the small, grass lawn near the school’s entrance. This was where Luz Romero heard about the district’s plans.

“What was the word they used? Re-something,” she said, referring to “repurpose,” the district’s technical term for what is being planned for the school. “They’re closing it, that’s definite,” she said.

Whatever they call it, Romero is not happy about it. She said the teachers at Laguna Nueva stay late to work with students and “there is always a parent-teacher relationship” that is very important to her, she said. Meanwhile the staff “know my child’s name, not just by a student ID.”

District officials say students will have just as good an education at other schools in the district. They maintain that while it’s good to see parents and students taking pride in Laguna Nueva, the educational programs praised by parents and teachers are also offered at other schools in the district.

But some parents think Laguna Nueva is not like most public schools, even ones within the Montebello Unified School District.

Margo Villanueva Barela was sending her children to Catholic school, but when she ran out of money, she sent them to Laguna Nueva Elementary because the principal there said it would be run similarly to a Catholic school.

“The concept of a private school is good. They have a lot of security and they do a lot of for the kids,” Barela said.
But Revueltas said at the faculty and staff meeting last Thursday that parents tend to stay at Montebello Unified, and actually parents from other districts apply for permits to go to schools in Montebello Unified.

Laguna Nueva also seems to have built a reputation for being more “experimental” than most schools in the district. There was a feeling at the beginning that they could try new things, according to Maria Gamboa, one of the three original teachers still at Laguna Nueva. When she started, there were twelve teachers and about a hundred students. Being on the ground floor of something freed them to try different approaches.

Gamboa was teaching at another school in the district when she was assigned to Laguna Nueva. “When I came here it became more about teamwork… trying out different things, kind of like an experimental school,” she said. Teachers would go out into the community to introduce themselves to parents; they would combine multiple grade levels together, she said.

She admits as the school grew it started to adhere more to district-wide practices, but the culture of the early days remained according to many of the teachers. Some teachers, such as Jose Cuevas, said they sought out the chance to be at Laguna Nueva in order to be involved with what the school was doing.

One teacher, Larry McKiernan, suggested that instead of closing the school, they could preserve what they have at Laguna Nueva by making it a charter school, though it doesn’t seem like a “popular idea,” especially at this district.

Officials say it isn’t the quality of the teaching at Laguna Nueva that has marked it for closure. Rather it was purely about the numbers. They have considered other schools, such as Bandini Elementary, for closure, but Laguna Nueva made the most sense, Revueltas said.

While its industrial location, the lack of facilities, and other factors may be piling against keeping Laguna Nueva open, Gamboa thinks “with the little we’ve had, we’ve done miracles.”

Pérez Announces Plan to Temporarily Fund Child Care

October 21, 2010 by · 11 Comments 

Speaker of the Assembly John Pérez announced plans to continue funding CalWORKS childcare program until California’s new elected officials are seated. (EGP photo Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Speaker of the Assembly John Pérez (46th District) on Tuesday announced a plan to bridge the funding gap for California’s childcare programs that he says will keep children in daycare and parents in jobs who would otherwise be forced to quit to care for their displaced children. The funding will keep child care workers on the job until the end of the year, Perez said.

When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the 2010-2011 Budget, he cut $256 million from the program that provides child care services to struggling families who are employed and have successfully transitioned off CalWORKS cash assistance.

Statewide, the cuts impact over 81,000 children and 60,000 families. In L.A. County, the cuts could impact 12,000 families and over 17,000 children and nearly 6,000 childcare providers, including licensed family childcare centers, thereby creating a $400 million void in the county’s economy, according to Pérez’s office.

The California Assembly has pulled together $6 million from their operating budget to bridge funding for CalWORKS families in the Stage 3 Child Care program, Perez announced during Tuesday’s press conference.
He said the temporary funding is just the first step toward restoring full funding to the program.

“We will continue to work with First 5 and others to separate [out] those funds to get us through the rest of the year. When we come back from recess in January, we will undertake a majority vote process which will restore the balance of the funds,” Perez said.

He said he is confident that the assembly will do everything possible to completely restore funding for the program.

“I believe that we will have the majority of the legislature [moving] to do that and I’m confident that the next governor will understand the imperative, not only to the parents and the childcare providers, but the overall economy of the state of California that is negatively impacted by this action by the governor,” he said.

Nicole Ratenburg, a single mother and beneficiary of the Stage 3 childcare program, broke down in tears at the event saying the CalWORKS program helped her work full-time to support herself and her family.

“I can’t explain enough how difficult hearing this news has been for myself and my family, and having to talk to my childcare provider because she didn’t know about it until I told her about it,” said Ratenburg, referring to the governor’s budget cuts.

Mexican American Opportunity Foundation CEO Martin Castro said the state cuts hurt over 440 families in MAOFs service area—which includes East LA.

“Last week our organization sent over 775 notices of termination to parents just like Nicole. We had no choice, we had to do it because of the governor’s blue pencil of Stage 3,” he said. “What I and my staff have heard back since we took that action is grief and anguish on the part of parents’ providers who are saying ‘I may have to go out of business and if I do, I will lose my home.’ Folks this is serious, this should never have happened. This rainy day fund can wait and we need to prepare the children and the families of California,” said Castro, referring to the governor’s decision to put money away in a reserve fund.

According to Castro, the termination of childcare funding is pending notification of the State Department of Education.

Perez noted that it’s not a question of whether the money is available, but how it should be spent.

“This is a question that the Governor took upon himself, to unilaterally take away this funding. Now the governor took away this funding and is saying he did so to increase the amount of money in our reserve,” he said. “First of all, if that were the case, I think it would be a bad trade off and it’s inconsistent with the negotiations that we endured for over 100 days. It’s a bad trade off for the individuals impacted and it’s a bad trade off for the overall economy… The other sad reality is that it doesn’t significantly increase our reserve at all.”

Pérez has reached out to the First 5 California Children and Families Commission and to the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors to secure more funding. He hopes the First 5 Commission will approve his request for an emergency meeting on Nov. 10.

Vernon Businesses Take Stock Amid Controversy, Slow Economy

October 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

When economist Jack Kyser drives through Vernon on his way home from work, he sees for himself the day-to-day activity behind the numerous numbers and charts used to describe the economy.

“The route is useful because you can see what’s going on at the railyards over at that side of town,” he says.

His drive home is an “anecdotal economic indicator” similar to when he goes to the mall to see “what the people are doing and how many bags they are carrying.”

It is also a reminder of the link between local businesses and the health of the state’s economy — a link Kyser thinks lawmakers in Sacramento have a hard time making. He says there is no “sense of urgency” in California’s capitol.

Kyser recently told a group of business people at an annual “economic forecast” luncheon that they should “fight to keep a lot of our manufacturing capabilities here.”

Businesses need to take a less “laidback” approach and tell Sacramento, “you have to pay attention to us… we are still the largest manufacturing center by employment.”

Kyser, who has been called the “voice” for the Southern California economy, retired this year from his position as director of the Los Angeles Economic Development Center. He is now working as an economic advisor for the Southern California Association of Governments.

He spoke last Thursday at Stevens Steakhouse in Commerce to members of the Vernon Chamber of Commerce, who were sympathetic to his distaste for Sacramento lawmakers.

Kyser’s prognosis for the economy this year was not very surprising. It’s not really doom and gloom, but it’s not really something to rejoice over – in other words, the economy is looking just “so-so.”

Kyser’s forecast gave Chamber members an idea of what they are facing moving forward, and a way to describe what many were already feeling.

Kyser said persistent high unemployment has been a “millstone around our necks,” even though the recession is technically over. Other economic indicators might be up, but many people still don’t have jobs, many for very a long time, “and this is why it feels so bad,” he said.

“Consumer confidence, business confidence are still very, very weak, as long as the unemployment rates hang high… credit’s still tight, housing is still struggling and the financial markets are still quite nervous,” he said.

While introducing Kyser, Jason Andreoli, a member of the family that runs Vernon-based rendering company Baker Commodities, touched on another persistent feeling among local business people: “Running a business in California can be tough at times, and sometimes near impossible.”

For Andreoli, this is why being located in Vernon, which has long promised low utility rates, gives them a competitive edge. Utility rates are a top priority for the Vernon Chamber.

“We definitely pay attention to increases in utility fees, increases in water, any ordinances that affects business… advocacy on a city level is extremely important to the business community,” said the chamber’s executive director, Marisa Olguin.

And yet issues relating to fees and costs are what other local governments seem to get wrong when it comes to keeping businesses feeling happy. “Local governments have to understand that business can’t wait forever. They have to have reasonable fees, what have you. They just have to be willing to pick up those phones and respond to those phone calls. That’s a very important thing,” said Kyser.

Thomas Andersen, Chairman of the Vernon Chamber, said he doesn’t want to trivialize recent turmoil over government official salaries and questions about the ethical conduct of a former city administrator, but they have issues that go “beyond the headlines.”

“We want to… focus on making the Light and Power, [Vernon’s energy company], the viable, profitable entity that can continue to provide an inexpensive, competitive power system to the businesses here, and that’s a major concern,” he said. “There are a lot of little things that could lead toward it, but that’s the major one.”

And when it comes to getting those concerns across to the government, businesses feel they have a better chance dealing with their local government in Vernon than they do with legislators in Sacramento “where they don’t feel like they have any leverage,” Olguin said.

Andersen echoed this feeling of disconnect, He says too many legislators have never been in business, “or have a very good business background.”

When one of Vernon’s local representatives, State Assembly Speaker John Perez spoke to the chamber, “the gist of what he was saying is that business is a necessary evil and they are exploitative of their workers. And we have to change that,” Andersen said.

He says state lawmakers need to have a “two-way dialogue” with businesses. In seeing businesses in only a negative light, legislators like Perez miss what local businesses have to offer, he said.

“We have very good paying jobs here. We are the first run-up to the middle class for many people…. And Sacramento just doesn’t get that. They are doing everything to keep businesses from thriving, it seems,” he said.

Andersen says there are some lawmakers, such as their Congressional representative Lucille Roybal-Allard, who “listens to business – she knows several of the business people in this town personally and she meets with them one-on-one, and quite often.”

Kyser said “sophisticated,” out-of-state recruiters use California’s anti-business image to lure businesses out of California, which if the goal is to improve the local economy, shouldn’t be happening.

“So you have other states, other cities around the U.S. and they will come in, and it’s an ongoing effort, they will buy mailing lists from Dun & Bradstreet and they will say, target a certain industry or they will target a certain size of business, or they will target businesses that are having financial problems, with the idea that if you come to our area, your cost of operating will be lower, so you’ll save yourself,” he said.

Kyser said the city of Long Beach was recently targeted by one of those recruiters. He pointed to Boeing, which relocated from Long Beach to Oklahoma this summer, taking with it 800 jobs.

Aside from California’s reputation as being an “anti-business” state, another reputation has been hurting Vernon businesses. Media coverage, investigations by the state Attorney General and the Los Angeles County District Attorney have uncovered suspected unethical behavior in Vernon government, which has made businesses “unhappy.” One Vernon company even “lost jobs,” customers, because of it.

“Oh, you’re in Vernon, you’re a crook,” was the first response from a business in Wisconsin when a Vernon company tried “to do a sales job, trying to build up his business,” said Andersen.

On Monday, the Grand Jury indicted Vernon’s former city administrator Donal O’Callaghan, who Vernon Property Association President Steve Freed pointed out “is the second City Administrator to be investigated by a Grand Jury and this follows the conviction of former Mayor Malburg on voter fraud charges.” He also called salaries of several Vernon officials “outrageous.”

Freed thinks the District Attorney’s indictment of O’Callaghan is a “step in the right direction,” but given the lack of a strong electorate in the city, which has less than a hundred residents, he is not convinced there will be any substantial improvement in the conduct of the Vernon officials down the line.

Andersen, however, sees the appointment of Vernon Fire Chief Mark Whitworth to the city administrator job as a positive move. “I do believe [he] really wants to work with the chamber, more so than any of the people that came before him,” Andersen said.

Former Vernon City Administrator Indicted on Three Felony Counts

October 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Ex-Vernon city administrator Donal O’Callaghan pleaded not guilty to a grand jury indictment unsealed Tuesday charging him with three felony counts stemming from financial deals involving his wife and the small municipality.

The indictment, handed up Monday, charges O’Callaghan with two counts of conflict of interest and one count of public officer crimes. The District Attorney’s office is alleging that O’Callaghan got a contract for his wife to work as a $40 an hour bookkeeper for the city.

Donal O’Callaghan

Details of the grand jury testimony that are expected to come out ten days after the defense picks it up “will shed more light” on the case, said Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman.

Public officials are trained in public ethics law, and one of the things that they learn is that it is illegal to have a hand in creating a contract that would be of financial benefit to him or her, Huntsman said.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza set bail at $50,000 and ordered O’Callaghan to return to the downtown courthouse on Dec. 3 for a pretrial hearing.

Huntsman said the charges involve an alleged loss of about $140,000 that was paid out.

“This is a classic case of ‘gotcha’ where the city is accusing Mr. O’Callaghan of conflict of interest,” defense attorney Mark J. Werksman said.

O’Callaghan’s attorney said his client’s wife, Kimberly McBride O’Callaghan, was hired to work as a third-party contractor with the knowledge of city officials and that she was paid a “reasonable salary” for performing “valuable services for the city.”

Werksman said his client was “forced to resign last week,” despite being a “hard-working productive city administrator.”

Vernon officials confirmed O’Callaghan resigned Oct. 14. He had been put on administrative leave on Aug. 26 while City Attorney Larry Wiener conducted an internal investigation.

“Vernon has fully cooperated with the District Attorney’s office in its investigation of Mr. O’Callaghan and will continue to do so,” said Vernon City Administrator Mark Whitworth.

Wiener, an attorney with Richards, Watson & Gershon, has parted ways with the city, but will stay on until Nov. 1 to conclude his internal investigation. He has assisted the District Attorney’s office by informing them of facts related to the case, according to Huntsman.

“I don’t think that there is a surprise that this indictment has taken place,” given the recent news and intense scrutiny surrounding the city in recent months, said Vernon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Thomas Andersen.

He says the negative news is “embarrassing” for Vernon businesses and the association with these events has had an “actual impact on businesses in the city,” with some losing customers because of it.

Business people and property owners, who are seen as the main constituents in Vernon, are “concerned about the apparent corruption occurring in the City of Vernon,” according to Steve Freed, president of the Vernon Property Association.

He said they are concerned about the “outrageous salaries” of some former city officials and pointed out that past officials other than O’Callaghan have been indicted or convicted of wrongdoing.

“We commend the Los Angeles County District Attorneys Office for its continuing investigation into these matters,” he said.

O’Callaghan is the third former Vernon city official to face criminal charges in recent years. Another former city administrator, Bruce Malkenhorst, is awaiting trial on felony charges of misappropriation of public funds.

Leonis Malburg, who had been mayor of Vernon for more than 50 years before resigning last year, was sentenced in January to five years probation and ordered to pay $579,000 in fines and restitution in a voter registration fraud case.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson said then that the charges stemmed from “serious crimes involving fraud and dishonesty which merit serious punishment,” but he said he did not give the former mayor jail time because of his age – 80 – and his medical condition.

Malburg’s wife, Dominica, was given three years probation and $36,000 in fines and penalty assessments.

Eastside Honors First Latino LAPD Commanding Officer

October 21, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Family, friends, police and elected officials celebrated the renaming of the station and unveiled a marquee with the wording “Rudy De Leon Hollenbeck Police Station” on Oct. 16. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

High-ranking police and government officials joined the Boyle Heights community last Saturday in celebrating the official renaming of the Los Angeles Police Department’s new police station in Boyle Heights as the “Rudy De Leon Hollenbeck Police Station” The much-anticipated ceremony came a year after the retired officer’s passing, but his name and legacy are now embedded in Los Angeles history.

Rudy De Leon was the LAPD’s first Latino Commanding Officer, the first president of the Police Historical Society, and the first president of the Latin American Law Enforcement Association (LaLey), which resulted from a Consent Decree imposed by a federal court due to LAPD discrimination practices.

De Leon is now also the first Latino to have an LAPD police station named in his honor.

De Leon had humble roots.  He was the son of Mexican immigrants who grew up during the great depression. He was a WWII veteran and worked his way up the LAPD ranks to be Captain of Hollenbeck Police Station from 1970 to 1978. De Leon was an LAPD officer for 31 years and is considered the father of community policing. He also established a boxing program for area youth that lives on today through the Hollenbeck Youth Center.

De Leon’s son, Officer Rudy De Leon II, said that during his father’s childhood he traveled with “Uncle Benny” to pick up half rotten vegetables in Hoover Town, and went to pick lima beans with “Uncle Ruben,” but never felt deprived.

“He said, ‘I never once in my life thought we were poor, we always had food on the table, maybe not much, but most of all we had mom and pop who were always there to take care of us,’” De Leon’s son recalled.

As a teenager, his father stuttered and lacked a lot of self-confidence, but after an unsuccessful bout in the boxing ring he learned a valuable lesson, said De Leon II.

“‘If I can get myself out there in the ring and get pounded in the canvass in front of all those people and survive, there’s probably no limit to the things I can do,’” his son proudly told the audience, adding that his father also learned the importance of being prepared.

While De Leon senior boxed in his youth, his desire to continue a boxing program between police officers and youth grew out of a summer camp experience where he pretended to be the brother of a close friend. The camp changed his view of police officers from simply authority figures, to that of role models and friends, said De Leon II.

De Leon senior worked in a variety of jobs until the age of 78, but loved most being captain of Hollenbeck, said his son.

“But if he were here today you would have a dissenter in the crowd because he would point out it shouldn’t be his name that should go up here, it should be those hundreds of officers and civilian workers who did an outstanding job the whole time he worked at Hollenbeck, the councilmember…the business leaders…and finally, the people who lived in Hollenbeck [who were] always willing to make this place a safer place,” he said.

De Leon said his father’s departing words of advice were to always “Be cool, be sharp, study hard and work hard,” but he attributed his own success to friends and mentors who helped him onto the right path and gave him encouragement.

“We are totally overwhelmed by this event and this honor that you have bestowed on dad… believe me, from the bottom of our hearts we thank each and every one of you,” said De Leon II.

In March 2009, the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve Councilmember Jose Huizar’s motion to rename the Hollenbeck substation in honor of De Leon, who had passed away several months earlier at the age of 85.

Torres High Time Capsule Stores East Los Angeles’ Struggles and Triumphs

October 21, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Parents and community members joined former Congressman Esteban E. Torres, elected officials and officials of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) on Monday to dedicate a time capsule placed in the Esteban Torres High School’s main courtyard.

Congressman Torres assists with the time capsule. Photo courtesy of LAUSD.

The time capsule contains pictures documenting the creation of the school from beginning to end, as well as information about the school’s namesake, former U.S. Rep. Esteban E. Torres and the surrounding community, according to a press release from the district.

Los Angeles County Supervisor and Board Chair Gloria Molina recalled the struggle to find a location for the first high school built in unincorporated East LA and highlighted the schools’ namesake.

“We are proud that it is named after one of our community’s original Warriors – Esteban Torres – our leader, role model and champion,” Molina said. “This school reflects his lifetime of contributions to East Los Angeles.”
Congressman Torres said the school is an example of the collaboration between LAUSD, the parents, teachers and students of the Eastside to bring about educational reform.

“This dynamic event for Eastside schools manifests the importance of educational reform in East Los Angeles,” Torres said. “I believe this day is extremely important for everyone. I am especially indebted to the organizing work of InnerCity Struggle and the East Side Educational Collaborative.”

School Member Yolie Flores said Torres High School is a shining example of how the Public School Choice and the Small Schools Initiative is transforming public education in the district.

“This campus of five, independent small schools will offer personalized and rigorous instruction where every student will be expected to achieve, to graduate, and go on to college or pursue a career. The students of East Los Angeles are well deserving, brilliant and deserve no less,” she said.

Esteban E. Torres High School opened last month and relieves overcrowding at Garfield and Roosevelt high schools.

Eastern Group Publications Ballot Recommendations, November 2, 2010 General Election

October 21, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

In talking to local residents and businesses, it has become apparent that while all generally agree that the decisions to be made in the upcoming election are of critical importance, many, if not most people do not believe that the choice they mark on their ballot will make any real difference at either the state or national level, or locally for that matter.

There is a sense of hopelessness that seems to be permeating nearly every sector of society, from homeowners to commercial property owners, from teachers to parents, from business owners to the unemployed. Looming all around is the question, “will things ever get better?”

Recent salary scandals and stories of unethical and possible criminal wrongdoing by officials in the cities of Bell and Vernon have only added to the distrust many have in their elected officials. The temptation to not vote hangs heavy in the air.

But not voting, as one group has suggested, is not the solution.

There is no doubt that our economy is still in bad shape. California has been hard pressed to get things rolling again. We’ve yet to make any real dent in unemployment. The financial industry’s growing foreclosure scandal, cuts to safety net programs, increases in business and personal bankruptcies are all worrying.

But not voting will not solve any of these problems.

While we recognize that Californians, like people all over the country, are being bombarded from all sides by polarizing, single-issue rhetoric, the reality is that most issues are complex, especially in these uncertain times.

And so it is with political candidates and ballot measures. Rarely do we find a candidate who agrees with everything we believe to be important, or whom we agree with on every issue. And the same holds true for ballot initiatives. Few are written to represent the middle ground of where most voters stand. So we are often left to choose between something we sort-of-like and something we do not completely hate.

But not voting is not the solution.

So as we head into the November 2, 2010 General Election, we encourage all registered voters to go to the polls to exercise their right to have a say in the governing process going forward.

Eastern Group Publications, EGP News, makes the following Ballot Recommendations:

United States Senator —Barbara Boxer
Our endorsement goes to U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer. The senator has always been supportive of our veterans’ needs and has worked diligently to provide services to them.

Her support of educational funding for California schools has been consistent, as has been her efforts to bring much needed funds for infrastructure improvements back to the state.

In addition, her defense of keeping Social Security from being privatized, and her fight to keep Medicare costs to seniors down, are only a few of the reasons she continues to be reelected to the US Senate. Lets keep her there.

California Attorney General — Steve Cooley
Los Angeles County’s District Attorney, Steve Cooley, has earned our respect for his support of the Public Integrity Unit in his department. Not only has he gone after the rotten apples in elected office in the county’s cities, he has also been there for citizens who have asked his department to look into the questionable dealings of local city officials.

Cooley has also refused to back down to prosecutors who would have continued to prosecute many defendants under three strikes law, which he believes should only be used for criminal felons who need to be kept out of society and in prison for life.

Cooley has also been an advocate for “regular people” who have been swindled out of their hard-earned money by unscrupulous business owners, ponzi schemes and other con artists.

We think Steve Cooley should be our next Attorney General.

State Controller — John Chiang
Few State Controllers have had to hold the fort on a state’s dysfunctional fiscal affairs as Controller John Chiang has had to do when the state’s budget is delayed for months on end.

While some of his decisions during the budget impasse weren’t always popular to some groups, we admire the way he stood his ground in paying the state’s employees.

His quick decision to audit the city of Bell’s finances has helped give residents in the city, city officials (what is left of them), and other investigating units, a clear picture of the city’s real financial state and how the city’s revenue was misappropriated and spent.

We believe John Chiang has earned another term as state controller.

Secretary of State and State Treasurer
There are times when we endorse elected officials for reelection not because of some special project or action they have taken, but because they have carried out their official duties in the competent and professional manner we expected of them when they were first voted into office. In the cases of Secretary of State Debra Bowen and State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, we believe they each deserve another term.

Ballot Propositions

Prop 25—Changes Legislative Vote Requirement To Pass Budget And Budget-Related Legislation From Two-Thirds To A Simple Majority. Retains Two-Thirds Vote Requirement For Taxes. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

The two-thirds vote requirement to pass a state budget in the state constitution is not to blame for the state’s budget being late or the state’s inability to raise taxes. The legislature is to blame.

For 40 years, the two-thirds requirement never stopped timely budget passage. And, Californians have been taxing themselves for what they believe to be necessary expenditures.

We believe it’s the legislature’s responsibility to arrive at a timely budget, not look for scapegoats. For too long they have allowed budget negotiations to deteriorate into a game of chicken, or “it’s my way, or no way.”

As for punishing legislators for not passing a timely budget by canceling daily pay and expenses, that is but a drop in the bucket when compared to the amount of the money lost by failing to pass the budget on time. There is no guarantee that legislators will not find some other way to make up lost income should this proposition pass, but it is likely they will find new ways and shortcuts to pass the budget, whether it makes sense or not. Besides these people aren’t kids that need to be punished, so grow up and stop holding the state’s residents hostage. Voters should remember, passing a budget does not guarantee the budget is any good.

—Vote No

Prop 26—Requires That Certain State And Local Fees Be Approved By Two-Thirds Vote. Fees Include Those That Address Adverse Impacts On Society Or The Environment Caused By The Fee-Payer’s Business. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

We dislike constitutional amendments—especially since they become a tool for many special interest groups, and not the common good.

What’s wrong with the present requirements for defining what is a tax—namely that it is a cost that is for a general expenditure that is for the common good.  Or the definition of a fee, which states that it is a regulatory or related cost for a particular group or single entity?

Trying to confuse the voters into approving an amendment that would label a fee as a tax thereby saddling everyone with a cost that should be borne by a particular group, is an underhanded trick by special interests who don’t believe they should mitigate the costs of their impact on others.

—Vote No

Prop 27—Eliminates State Commission On Redistricting. Consolidates Authority For Redistricting With Elected Representatives. Initiative Constitutional Amendment And Statute.

Californian has embarked on a new way to carry out its political redistricting by turning over the job to an independent commission, taking it out of the hands of the State Legislature.

The commission has not handled a single redistricting effort, so why do away with it?

Many believe the commission will allow for greater citizen participation and less backroom negotiating. Voters expressed the same when first approving the change.
Now the legislature wants the job returned to them through the enactment of Prop. 27.

We just do not believe that the experiment with a commission has been given an opportunity to show if it can work, so why cut it short.

—Vote No

EGP Ballot Recommendations

Prop 19—Legalizes Marijuana under California but not federal law and allows local governments to regulate and tax the commercial production, sale and distribution.  As written, the Initiative doe not provide sufficient regulation and safeguards. —Vote No

Prop 20—Takes redistricting process away from legislators and places it in the hands of a Citizens’ Commission.  —Vote Yes

Prop 21—Adds another $18 to the Vehicle License to pay for State Parks and Wildlife Programs.  —Vote No

Prop 22—State legislators should be prohibited from taking funds from local governments to balance its budget. —Vote Yes

Prop 24—Repealing recently approved business tax breaks will hurt many small businesses already struggling with the bad economy and burdensome regulations. —Vote No

Anuncian Plan para Extender Financiamiento de CalWORKS Etapa 3

October 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

El Presidente de la Asamblea John Pérez (Distrito 46 de California) anunció el martes un plan para cerrar la brecha de financiamiento para los programas de cuidado infantil de California que él asegura mantendrá a los niños seguros en las guarderías, sin obligar a los padres a dejar de trabajar para cuidar a sus hijos, y además evitará el desplazo de trabajadores de cuidado de niño. El plan de financiamiento continuará los servicios de la Etapa 3 de CalWORKS hasta el final del año, dijo Pérez.

El Presidente de la Asamblea John Pérez anunció el lunes sus planes para continuar el financiamiento del programa de cuidado de niños de CalWORKs durante el plazo en el cual los nuevos funcionarios electos de California estarán sentados en sus puestos. Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo

Cuando el gobernador Arnold Schwarzenegger firmó el presupuesto estatal para el año fiscal 2010-2011, él cortó $256 millones del programa que provee servicios de cuidado infantil para las familias que han luchado, queines trabajan y quienes han logrado éxito para dejar de depender sobre la asistencia monetaria de CalWORKs. El cesar de fondos para el programa que entrará en vigor a partir de noviembre tiene el potencial de un resultado devastador para familias y proveedores de cuidado infantil.

Nicole Ratenburg, madre soltera y beneficiaria del programa de cuidado de niños Etapa 3, lucho contra sus larimas pero expresó esperanza en rueda de prensa. Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo

A nivel estatal, el impacto de los recortes afecta a más de 81.000 niños y 60.000 familias. En el condado de Los Ángeles, los recortes podrían afectar 12.000 familias y más de 17.000 niños y cerca de 6.000 proveedores de cuidado infantil, incluidos los centros familiares autorizados de cuidado infantil. El hecho creará un vacío de $400 millones en la economía del condado, según la oficina de Pérez.

Durante la rueda de prensa, Perez anuncio que la Asamblea había juntado $6 millones de su propio presupuesto de funcionamiento para cubrir la financiación del cuidado infantil para las familias de CalWORKS en la Etapa 3.

La financiación temporal es sólo el primer paso hacia la restauración del financiamiento completo del programa, él dijo.

“Vamos a seguir trabajando con First 5 y otras agencias para conseguir más fondos para llevarnos a fines del año. Al regresar del receso en enero, realizaremos un proceso de voto de la mayoría [en la Asamblea] para restablecer el equilibrio de los fondos,” dijo Pérez.

Él dijo estar seguro que la asamblea hará todo en su poder para restaurar los fondos completos para el programa.

Nicole Ratenburg, madre soltera y beneficiaria del programa de cuidado de niños Etapa 3, solto las lagrimas durante la rueda de prensa y dijo que el programa de cuidado infantil de CalWORKS la asistió en poder trabajar de tiempo completo y así proveer para su familia.

“No tengo las palabras para explicar lo tán difícil fue recibir la noticia [de la cancelación del programa Etapa 3], y tener que informar a la proveedora de cuidado de mi hija porque ella no sabía nada sobre esto hasta que yo le dije”, dijo Ratenburg, refiriéndose a los recortes del presupuesto del gobernador.

El Presidente de MAOF (Mexican American Opportunity Foundation) Martin Castro dijo que en el área de servicio de su agencia, los recortes afectarían a más de 440 familias de la zona, incluso a familias del Este de Los Ángeles.

“La semana pasada nuestra organización envió más de 775 avisos de terminación a padres igual que Nicole,” dijo. “Desde tomar la acción, la respuesta ha sido una de dolor y angustia por parte de los padres, y los proveedores han dicho ‘perdere mi negocio y si lo pierdo, voy a perder mi hogar.’ Esto es serio, esto nunca debería haber ocurrido. Este Fondo de Reserva puede esperar y tenemos que preparar a los niños y las familias de California,” dijo Castro, refiriéndose a la decisión del gobernador de poner dinero en un fondo de reserva.

De acuerdo a Castro, la terminación de la financiación del programa de cuidado de los niños aún espera de la notificación del Departamento de Estado de Educación.

Pérez señaló que no es una cuestión de si el dinero está disponible—según él, si hay fondos—pero el gobernador ha hecho la decisión de no financiar el programa Etapa 3.

“Ahora el gobernador quitó este financiamiento y dice que lo hizo para aumentar la cantidad de dinero en nuestra reserva”, dijo Pérez. “Esto es un mal intercambio para los individuos afectados y es una mala operación para la economía en general … Otra realidad triste es que esto no aumenta de manera significante nuestra reserva en fodos.”

Pérez se ha comunicado con la comisión de Familias y Niños de California de First 5 y la Junta de Supervisores del Condado de Los Ángeles para conseguir más financiación. Él espera que la Comisión First 5 aprobará su solicitud de una reunión de emergencia para el 10 de noviembre.

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