Residents Aided In Filing Claims Against Exide

October 24, 2013 by · 3 Comments 

UPDATE: Three Month Filing Extension Granted For Personal Injury Claims Against Exide

Dozens of people who attended a Neighborhood Watch meeting Monday at Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights received instruction on how to fill-out claim forms seeking damages from Exide Technologies by a court imposed Oct. 31st deadline.

The publicly traded corporation with operations in 80 countries, filed for bankruptcy in early summer.

Dozens of residents on Monday night gathered to hear instructions on how to file a claim form and to ask questions. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Dozens of residents on Monday night gathered to hear instructions on how to file a claim form and to ask questions. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

The US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware recently mailed claim forms to a wide swath of residents living in the area believed most negatively impacted by harmful lead and arsenic emissions from Exide’s lead battery-recycling plant in Vernon. The targeted area includes Vernon, the nearby cities of Huntington Park, Maywood, Commerce and Montebello, and the communities of Boyle Heights and unincorporated East Los Angeles.

People at Monday’s meeting were told they have to file the claim form before the Oct. 31 deadline — even if they do not have all their information or know how much to seek in financial damages —if they want to preserve their right to seek damages.

While assistance was given in filling out the forms, volunteers emphasized that they were not giving legal advise and urged participants to seek the help of an attorney.

Teresa Marquez of the Boyle Heights Stakeholders Association told EGP the workshop was very informative and that she liked the “clarity and honesty” of the presenters.

Marquez pointed out, for example, that residents were told to look for an attorney who will review the merits of their case and be paid on a contingency basis. If an attorney wants a retainer, look for another attorney, Marquez said they were told.

The two-page claim form, with a third page of continued instructions, has nine short sections. Residents were told they could skip sections 4 through 6 that specifically deal with claims for delivered goods or services not paid for by the company.

Residents were also told the “[monetary] amount of claim as of date case filed” could be an estimated amount for medical bills, loss of earnings, emotional distress, or they could simply write “to be determined.”

The basis for their claim is personal injury due to their exposure to toxic emissions from the Exide plant. This type of personal injury claim is known as a “toxic tort,” said Anastasia Mazzella, an attorney volunteering at the meeting. She said the claims could be amended at a later date, calling this a “band aide measure in the 11th hour.”

Other suggestions included filing a separate claim form for every member of a family and not just one claim form for the entire family, mailing each claim separately and being sure to keep a copy of the original form and all supporting documents, like medical evaluations or bills. If a claimant doesn’t have the supporting documents ready, he or she can write “still gathering documents” on the form, Mazzella said.

She suggested residents pay the extra postage for overnight delivery because it would give them proof that the document was delivered on time. She noted that the claims must be received by Oct. 31, and not just postmarked by that date. She also pointed out that the delivery address for the overnight shipments is different than those being sent by regular mail. She urged people to overnight the forms no later than Tuesday, Oct. 29.

The claim process can be long and complicated, with no guarantee of payment at the end. But submitting the form can ensure you’re at least “in line,” and if your claim is turned down, it does not preclude your right to sue, residents were told.

Monday’s meeting was presented in partnership with the offices of US Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard, State Sen. Kevin de León, Assembly Speaker John Pérez and Sen. Ricardo Lara.

It was the follow up to town hall meeting held earlier this month where the arsenic and lead contamination coming from the plant was the main topic of discussion.

Several Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles residents told EGP Monday that they plan file a claim, including long time Boyle Heights resident Rita Govea who says she believes her thyroid cancer and many of the medical problems suffered by members of her family are directly related to decades of exposure to Exide’s pollution.

Govea and others are convinced Exide is to blame for their ailments and suffering.

Brown Joins Launch of Bell Gardens’ Casino Hotel

October 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Gov. Jerry Brown, who says he comes from “a long line of poker players,” was in Bell Gardens Tuesday to announce the start of a major expansion project at a casino best known for its large poker room and card tables, that is now being hailed for bringing hundreds of jobs to an area with a high unemployment rate.

The governor was joined by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and other local officials, for the launch of construction of a privately funded $45 million seven-story, 100-room hotel at The Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens.

The Bicycle Casino launched its hotel expansion Tuesday, it is expected to be completed by 2015. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

The Bicycle Casino launched its hotel expansion Tuesday, it is expected to be completed by 2015. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

“This project and its hundreds of construction and permanent hospitality jobs is another sign of a rebound in the California economy, especially in our smaller cities and communities taking the brunt of the downturn,” Brown said. “Private sector investments such as the one being made by The Bicycle Casino are a strong vote of confidence in our economic future and I applaud them for taking this step.”

The hotel addition will expand the overall size of the facility to over 230,000 square-feet. The resort-like venue, similar to one in nearby Commerce, will be located on the casino’s property on Eastern Avenue near the 710 Freeway. Once complete, it will be one of only a few luxury hotel and casino resorts in south Los Angeles County.

At Tuesday’s launch, Brown heralded the casino’s hotel expansion as a positive step in the economic recovery of an area with a 16.3 percent unemployment rate.

“While things may be shutting down in Washington, they’re opening up in Bell Gardens,” he said.

Lara said the launch of the hotel project was a “momentous occasion” for the southeast city, adding that the casino is a “fixture in the community.”

“Over the past 20 years, the Bicycle Casino [has] played a pivotal role in Bell Gardens,” Lara said. “This exciting project will be the first of its kind…and a catalyst for future investment in neighboring communities.”

He said southeast communities in Los Angeles County were some of the hardest hit by the recession.

As a result, he said, “working families have taken the largest toll from the loss of jobs and the lack of growth opportunities for businesses in our communities.”

The $45 million private investment in the hotel “represents not only a new hotel, but also growth to our local economies which will give people an opportunity to provide for themselves and their children,’’ Lara said.

Nearly 43 percent of Bell Gardens’ general fund revenue comes from the casino. Historically, the amount has been closer to 50 percent; making the city very dependent on the casino for revenue it needs to pay for city services.

While the city welcomes the expansion and the increase in revenue it is sure to generate, it is banking on the hotel project creating a “ripple affect” that will bring more businesses to Bell Gardens,  said Abel Avalos, the city’s director of community development.

“We want to use the opening of the hotel as a catalyst for luring future business,” Avalos told EGP. “Our hope is that the casino is successful because that means success for the city, but also for the other restaurants and business in the city.”

The casino is the “biggest economic engine” in Bell Gardens, Lara told EGP. The project will create approximately 300 construction-related jobs and 250 permanent full-time hotel-related jobs.

“You can’t think of Bell Gardens without thinking of The Bicycle Casino, they go hand in hand,” Lara said. “It’s important that the casino continues to thrive and continues to hire people in the local community.”

While there is no written hiring agreement between the city and the casino that it will hire people who live in Bell Gardens residents, the casino has “historically hired local residents” and has always made an effort to hire residents from the community, said Avalos.

Gov. Jerry Brown, pictured, joined local leaders in Bell Gardns Tuesday to launch The Bicycle Casino’s hotel project. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Gov. Jerry Brown, pictured, joined local leaders in Bell Gardns Tuesday to launch The Bicycle Casino’s hotel project. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo told EGP that despite there not being any type of agreement that would guarantee Bell Gardens residents will be hired once the project is completed, the city works with the casino to ensure residents are the first to know about any job opportunities.

Although The Bicycle Casino hotel was originally approved for development back in 1984, EGP reported earlier this year the city had to first amend its zoning code to create a defined use for a casino resort under its land use code in order to continue with the project. The city approved the project in April along with a standard parking ratio for the resort.

Information from City News Service was used in this report.

Air Quality Officials Seek Order to Close Exide Plant

October 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A petition by air quality officials to shut down a lead-acid battery recycler in Vernon is “long overdue” according to Sen. Kevin de León.

He was responding to the announcement from the South Coast Air Quality Management District that it had filed the petition Oct. 18 with its Hearing Board —an independent administrative law panel – to shutter all lead smelting operations at the Exide plant in Vernon. The company has a long history of violations relating to the emission of cancer causing chemicals into the air that exceed state safety standards.

The Vernon plant, one of just two such plants operating west of the Rockies, recycles 23,000 to 41,000 batteries daily.

If approved, it would be the second shut down order issued this year. The first was appealed by Exide and overturned by a judge who said the company had demonstrated sufficient progress in resolving the air emission issues that had prompted the closure, allowing the plant to reopen.

De León urged the Board “to take swift and immediate action to shut this polluter down. Every time we turn the corner we find another outrageous example of how this company has continued to flagrantly poison the residents of the City of Vernon and nearby communities,” he said in a written statement.

Air quality officials, however, are not seeking a permanent shut down order as called for by residents and activists living in areas where the health risks from the emissions are the highest, including Boyle Heights, Maywood and Huntington Park. Instead, they have opted for a temporary shuttering of the facility “until its air pollution control systems are improved and deemed adequate to control arsenic emissions,” according to the SCAQMD announcement.

“Exide has had recurring operational problems this year and a troubled compliance history over the past several years,” said Barry Wallerstein, SCAQMD’s executive officer. “These problems have resulted in excess emissions of lead and arsenic – two highly toxic metals – that have imposed a significant health risk to people living or working in the surrounding area.”

Higher than safe emissions were recorded from the facility even as the company was under heightened scrutiny by the SQAMD and the state Department of Toxic Substance Control. As previously reported by EGP, local residents and other stakeholders have been pressuring air quality and elected officials for a permanent closure of the Exide plant amid concerns that the lead battery recycler has created a health crisis for hundreds of thousands of people living and working in the region, raising the cancer risk and the possibility of neurological deficits in children.

The air quality district’s petition alleges that Exide has failed to “adequately control gaseous pollutant emissions including arsenic.”  Monitoring of Exide’s air pollution control systems for its smelting furnaces this fall found the company had failed “a significant portion of the time.”

Exide continues to violate several SCAQMD rules, the petition alleges. The company was issued a notice of violation of the rules on Oct. 8, according the announcement.

A health risk assessment, approved in March, showed that the facility’s arsenic emissions were causing an unacceptable health risk to residents in Southeast Los Angeles County. As a result, Exide was ordered to develop a risk reduction plan. SCAQMD staff is now reviewing the plan. Last Friday, SCAQMD issued two more notices of violation – one for exceeding the single-stack lead emission limit contained in Rule 1420.1 and the other for not curtailing its emissions by the required amounts.

In a statement responding to SCAQMD’s announcement, DTSC said it would support the agency’s closure petition and continue to work to ensure the public’s safety.

“Should the operation cease, we will ensure that management of hazardous waste will comply with all standards that protect the health of the community. DTSC will continue to use its authority to ensure that Exide’s onsite and community investigation work to characterize the impacts of their operation is not interrupted.”

Attorneys for SCAQMD and Exide will meet today with the Hearing Board to schedule hearings on the petition, which potentially could include public meetings in communities around Vernon.

The Hearing Board has the option to allow Exide to continue to operate pending final compliance.

White Memorial: On a 100 Year Mission of Service

October 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Our faith and vision have brought us through numerous crisis and changes for 100 years and we will continue our excellent service for decades to come.”

– Beth Zachary, White Memorial Medical Center President and CEO.

 

White Memorial Medical Hospital is celebrating their centennial anniversary this year. Pictured, an archived photograph from the 1940s depicting doctors examining an x-ray at the then-clinic.  (Photo courtesy of White Memorial Medical Center)

White Memorial Medical Hospital is celebrating their centennial anniversary this year. Pictured, an archived photograph from the 1940s depicting doctors examining an x-ray at the then-clinic. (Photo courtesy of White Memorial Medical Center)

In September 1913, just east of the Los Angeles River, a small medical clinic opened as a teaching hospital with medical students who had only two years of theoretical classroom education.

The clinic, located on 1st Street, was as humble as could be, and was founded by what is known today as Loma Linda University. Despite working with secondhand medical instruments in a cramped facility, students were dedicated and engaged as they learned about modern medicine by examining patients.

Little did the founders and students know that the fledgling Seventh-day Adventist Clinic they established would become one of the finest hospitals and a Los Angeles fixture of landmark proportions in an area that would years later be named Boyle Heights.

From those humble beginnings, came White Memorial Medical Center, which this year is proudly celebrating 100 years of its commitment to caring, serving and healing.

Today, located on Cesar Chavez Avenue, a few blocks from where the small clinic opened, White Memorial is an award-winning 353-bed acute care community and teaching hospital, staffed by 462 physicians, 86 residents, 1,879 employees and nearly 700 volunteers. The not-for-profit hospital has served local families for generations and is an active part of the community.

As it continues its tradition of caring, White Memorial’s administrators, doctors and staff have joined community members in yearlong centennial celebrations. The celebrations are commemorating the hospital’s focus on the people who have made it flourish: patients and families, employees, health care professionals, nurses, physicians and friends of the hospital.

Named after Ellen G. White, the hospital is a living tribute to the Adventist leader who had the dream of integrating healing, healthy-living and whole-person care.

There were bumps along the road. The medical center was shook by earthquakes, hit by economic crisis, weathered two world wars and saw a shift in the population it serves.

“White Memorial has a fierce determination to face obstacles, a love for serving its community and a faith in the divine role in healing and in advancing the mission of the hospital,” said Beth Zachary, WMMC President and CEO. “I’m confident that the shoulders we stand on are strong enough to take us through whatever the future holds – as long as we remain true to our mission and values.”

Other area hospitals have opened and closed during White Memorial’s existence, including Linda Vista, Los Angeles Central Receiving, Belvedere, Santa Marta and Bella Vista hospitals.

“Our faith and vision have brought us through numerous crisis and changes for 100 years and we will continue our excellent service for decades to come,” Zachary said.

One such crisis came as recently as 2006 with the death of two premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit. Hospital officials closed the unit for two weeks after an outbreak of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common but potentially deadly bacterium, especially to people with weak immune systems, had sickened seven young patients.

“We are sad it happened,” hospital spokesperson Alicia Gonzalez said. “During the situation, we received enormous support and assurance from our White Memorial community and families and for that we are extremely grateful.”

But David and Lucina Marin, the grieving parents of one of the dead infants, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against White Memorial, citing negligence with the aim of putting pressure on the hospital to “never let this happen again.”

An investigation by county health officials determined White Memorial had changed the way instruments had been previously disinfected. The hospital reverted to its original sterilization practices and took all the appropriate measures, infection control and otherwise, to correct the problem. The director of the county’s acute communicable disease control unit praised the hospital for alerting authorities early about the problem.

“White Memorial and many hospitals across the country learned a great deal of valuable information from this event to prevent it from ever occurring again” Gonzalez said. “Patient safety remains our first priority and that will always be the case.”

When White Memorial separated from Loma Linda University in the 1960s the Adventist church reduced the hospital’s funding. Like many other hospitals across the country, it struggled during the 1970s to find ways to control rising costs from advances in medicine and technology and caring for the uninsured.

It was a challenge to continue to provide quality healthcare for a demographic that had turned 60 percent Latino, many without health insurance. While many families had lived in the area for decades and had good jobs and adequate health insurance, many of the area’s newer residents did not. Nonetheless, White Memorial treated all patients needing care, regardless of their ability to pay.

In 1982, a $5 million loss nearly led to White Memorial’s closing. But after helping generations of immigrants, White Memorial refused to abandon them. Thus, the hospital’s annals show the 1980s as an era dedicated to cost cutting and dire efforts to increase revenues amid a rising number of open beds.

However, in 1989, a single event reversed White Memorial’s financial crisis and promised to protect the hospital from similar circumstances in the future. California Senate Bill 855 established funds for hospitals — such as White Memorial — that provide a high percentage of charity care (free or reduced-cost care) and serve a disproportionately high number of Medi-Cal patients. The bill enabled White Memorial to be financially strong today and well positioned for the future.

Another financial boost came in 1996 when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) committed more than $89 million in funds to the hospital in the wake of the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Although damage to the hospital was minor, White Memorial qualified for funds to retrofit and/or rebuild as a result of California State Senate Bill 1953, which requires that all hospital buildings not only remain standing, but be operational following a major earthquake.

In 2012, US News & World Report ranked White Memorial No. 12 among the top 32-rated hospitals in the Los Angeles metro area and No. 20 of the 41 strong-performing hospitals in California.

Raul Cardoza, a retired college administrator who was raised in Boyle Heights, was so appreciative with the care his mother, Carmen, who died in 2010, received at White Memorial that he wrote a letter of gratitude to Zachary.

“I wrote a very supportive letter describing the great medical services my mom received,” Cardoza recalled, noting the good bedside manner of the caring doctors and staff. “The CEO was so pleased that she printed my letter in White Memorial’s monthly newsletter for the entire staff to see.”

Pictured, an archived photo from the 1950s of a nurse tending to newborns at White Memorial Medical Hospital. The hospital is celebrating their centennial anniversary this year. (courtesy of White Memorial Medical Hospital )

Pictured, an archived photo from the 1950s of a nurse tending to newborns at White Memorial Medical Hospital. The hospital is celebrating their centennial anniversary this year. (courtesy of White Memorial Medical Hospital )

White Memorial was founded by early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers who believe that health and wellness was achieved through proper nutrition, sunlight, fresh air, water, exercise and trust in divine power. These principles may seem simple now, but back then, when tobacco was prescribed for lung conditions and bathing was thought to cause disease, they were revolutionary.

In 2010, White Memorial completed a $250 million project to rebuild much of the hospital – made possible in part by $89 million in FEMA funding for seismic upgrades and $30 million in community support. The hospital now has a new eight-story tower, the crowning structure of the expansive and rebuilt medical campus.

White Memorial officials say that the hospital has always had a spirit of optimism about the future and a deep and abiding respect for people, even as it faced wars, earthquakes, depression, financial crisis and other difficulties.

During World War II, local Japanese and Japanese American residents living near the hospital were relocated to internment camps. A nearby Japanese hospital asked WMMC to operate their hospital in their absence. Without hesitation, White Memorial assumed its management and when the Japanese were freed, gave back the keys.

An exhaustive documentation of White Memorial’s milestones are compiled in the book “The Inspiring 100-year history of White Memorial Medical Center, A Journey of Faith and Healing,” written by Ronald Graybill and edited by Jane Allen Quevedo.

The medical center teaches physicians, nurses and health care workers—but also provides patients and community members with education on how to improve their health. Along with taking care of the physical health of the community, the hospital has many programs to assist local residents in learning more about taking care of their own health needs. With an economic impact of $937 million each year, White Memorial in many ways has become a beacon of community pride in the underserved Latino neighborhood where it is located.

In serving its mission of keeping the community healthy, White Memorial’s services include behavioral medicine, diabetes care, cardiac and vascular care, intensive and general medical care, oncology, orthopedic care, rehabilitation, specialized and general surgery, stoke care and women’s and children’s services. The hospital serves more than 126,000 patients each year.

White Memorial Medical Center is celebrating its Centennial year with a series of events throughout the year, including a Gala this Sunday at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel that annually raises funds for the medical facility. For more information about the events and for a look at gallery of historical photos and stories about the hospital from members of the community, visit www.whitememorial.com/Centennial.

Residentes son Instados a Presentar un Reclamo contra Exide

October 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Decenas de personas asistieron una reunión del grupo Vigilancia Vecinal el lunes en la Iglesia la Resurrección en Boyle Heights donde recibieron instrucciónes sobre como completar el formulario de reclamación por daños causados por Exide Technologies. La fecha limite impuesta por el tribunal para reclamaciones es el 31 de octubre.

La corporación Exide con operaciones en 80 países, se declaró en quiebra a principios del verano.

Actualización:  Residentes Reciben Extensión para Someter Demandas por Daños en Contra de Exide Technologies

 

Docenas de residentes el lunes asistieron una reunión para escuchar las instrucciones para llenar y someter un reclamo contra Exide, y para hacer preguntas.  (Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Docenas de residentes el lunes asistieron una reunión para escuchar las instrucciones para llenar y someter un reclamo contra Exide, y para hacer preguntas. (Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo)

El Tribunal de Quiebras de EE.UU. para el Distrito de Delaware por correo envió formularios de solicitud a una multitud de residentes que viven en la zona más afectada por las emisiones de plomo y arsénico provenientes de la planta de reciclaje de baterías de plomo de Exide en la ciudad de Vernon. Las zonas afectadas incluyen Vernon, Huntington Park, Maywood, Commerce, Montebello, las comunidades de Boyle Heights y el Este de Los Ángeles, entre otras.

Hoy los abogados de SCAQMD (autoridad de control de calidad de aire) y Exide se reunirán con la Junta de Audiencias (un panel administrativo independiente) para programar una audiencia sobre la petición sometida por SCAQMD el pasado 18 de octubre para cerrar la planta hasta que sus sistemas de control de contaminación del aire sean determinadas adecuadas para controlar las emisiones de arsénico. Si la clausura es aprobada, sería la segunda vez que Exide es obligado detener sus operaciones este año debido a sus emisiones tóxicas que crean un riesgo para la salud de los residentes.

Se les dijo a las personas en la reunión que el 31 de octubre es el último día que la corte aceptará las peticiones y que pueden sometan su formulario aunque no tengan toda la información o no sepan cuanto pedir en daños financieros, si es que quieren preservar su derecho a reclamar daños y perjuicios.

Aunque los residentes presentes recibieron instrucciones para llenar los formularios, los voluntarios hicieron hincapié en que no estaban dándoles consejos legales y los instaron a buscar por su propia parte un abogado de lesiones personales (“personal injury” en inglés).

Teresa Márquez, de Boyle Heights Stakeholders Association, dijo a EGP el taller fue muy informativo y que le gusto la “claridad y honestidad” de los presentadores.

Márquez señaló, por ejemplo, que se les dijo a los asistentes que busquen un abogado que evaluará los méritos de su caso y les cobrará una cuota de contingencia (solo si ganan el caso). Si un abogado quiere cobrarles un retenedor (un depósito por los servicios legales), mejor búsquese otro abogado, Márquez dijo que se les dijo.

El formulario de dos páginas, con una tercera página con instrucciones continuadas, cuenta con nueve secciones cortas. Se les dijo a los residentes que pueden saltarse las secciones 4 a 6, ya que estas son específicamente reclamaciones por servicios o productos que debe la empresa.

A continuación, se les dijo a los residentes que la cantidad [monetaria] de su reclamo podría ser una cantidad estimada de los gastos médicos, pérdida de ingresos debido a no poder trabajar, angustia emocional; o simplemente podrían escribir que la cantidad es “por determinarse”.

La base de su reclamo es por lesiones personales debido a su exposición a las emisiones tóxicas de la planta de Exide. Este tipo de demanda por lesiones personales que se conoce como un “agravio tóxico” (“toxic tort” en inglés), dijo Anastasia Mazzella, una abogada voluntaria en la reunión. Ella dijo que los reclamos pueden ser modificados en una fecha posterior, describiendo este esfuerzo una “curita a la última hora.”

Otras sugerencias incluyen someter un formulario para cada uno de los miembros de una familia (no uno para toda la familia), enviar cada reclamación por separado, mantener una copia del formulario y de los documentos justificativos, al igual que las evaluaciones médicas y las facturas. Si un solicitante no tiene los documentos de apoyo él o ella puede escribe “los documentos aún se están reuniendo”, dijo Mazzella.

Mazzella sugirió que los residentes paguen el cobro extra para el envío de un día porque eso les proporcionaría una prueba de que enviaron su reclamación. También señaló que la dirección es diferente para los envíos de un día, en comparación al correo regular.

Debido a que los reclamos deben ser recibidos por la corte de bancarrota el 31 de octubre (no en el correo con esa matasella), todos aquellos que quieren someter una reclamación son animados a enviar su reclamación por entrega express de un día, a más tardar el martes 29 de octubre—enviarlo el 30 de octubre es más un riesgo que su reclamación no podría llegar a tiempo.

Se les advierte de que no hay garantía que las personas que sometan una reclamación recibirán algún pago, y la presentación de una reclamación puede ser un proceso largo y complicado, pero la presentación de la reclamación puede asegurarse de que uno este “en línea” y si su solicitud es rechazada, aún tendrá el derecho de demandar a la corporación después que el caso de bancarrota se resuelva, se les dijo los residentes.

La reunión del lunes se presentó en colaboración con las oficinas de la congresista Lucille Roybal-Allard, el senador estatal Kevin de León, el presidente de la asamblea John Pérez y el senador Ricardo Lara.

La reunión fue un esfuerzo de seguimiento a la junta de ayuntamiento a principios de este mes que se centró en la contaminación proveniente de la planta.

Montebello-Commerce YMCA Breaks Ground on Centennial Capital Project

October 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

(Courtesy of Montebello/Commerce YMCA)

(Courtesy of Montebello/Commerce YMCA)

 

Business and community leaders celebrated the groundbreaking of Montebello-Commerce YMCA’s Centennial Capital Project Tuesday.

The non-profit’s project is expected to renovate and expand the facility, located on 2000 W. Beverly Blvd in Montebello.

Plans for this phase of the project include expanding the cardiovascular conditioning space, updating the facility with new state-of-the-art machines, adding a new LED message board and adding open areas.

 

Huizar Returns to City Hall, Calls Affair ‘Huge Mistake’

October 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar said Tuesday he made a “huge mistake” by carrying on an extra-marital affair with his former chief of staff, who is now suing him for sexual harassment.

Huizar admitted last week – through a spokesman for his attorney – to an “occasional and consensual” relationship with former council aide Francine Godoy. But he denied sexually harassing her.

“All I can say is, I regret the relationship I had with this woman, but her other accusations are false and malicious,” he said Tuesday as he attended his first council meeting since admitting the affair.

Huizar’s admission of a relationship, and his denial that he harassed Godoy, came as he attempts to rally financial support for a 2015 re-election campaign to serve a third term on the council. He held his first fundraiser Tuesday night in downtown Los Angeles. Council President Herb Wesson was expected to appear as a headliner.

Huizar, who represents the 14th District, said his council office’s work in the last eight years will carry weight with voters.

“I think voters will look at my record,” Huizar said. “My team has done a very good job in the last eight years and my constituents recognize that.”

Huizar said he helped bring in millions of dollars of improvements to the El Sereno area and revitalized Colorado Boulevard and Eagle Rock.

According to Godoy’s lawsuit, Huizar suggested in 2012 that Godoy run for a seat on the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees.

On Oct. 8, 2012, Huizar called Godoy to his office and said that “if she wanted his continued support in her campaign for the (community college board), she would have to have sex with him,” according to the lawsuit.

After Godoy refused, Huizar grew angry and began yelling and cursing at her, the lawsuit claims.

Earlier this year, Wesson convened a special committee to investigate sexual harassment claims against a city official. That panel, which has the option to hire an investigator to look into the matter, has met once so far, but has not taken any reportable action so far, according to Raelynn Napper, the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity coordinator.

Meanwhile, a top aide in another council office is also facing sexual harassment allegations. A lawsuit was filed in September by a former field deputy alleging Councilman Mitchell Englander’s chief of staff John Lee “repeatedly made inappropriate and offensive jokes and comments of a sexual nature” in her presence.

The person who filed the suit did not reveal her name and is listed on the suit as “Jane Doe.”

The suit claims Lee laughed when she reported that someone had looked up her skirt. Lee also refused to consider her for a position as the public safety deputy, saying she was not right for the job because she is a “petite pretty girl,” the suit alleges.

The suit further alleges “sexual comments were rampant” in Englander’s 12th District office and that the councilman mocked her aspirations to take on the public safety deputy role, telling her that she only wanted the job so she could “walk into the fire stations and be naked in front of the male firefighters.”

Englander has issued a statement saying the allegations are “surprising because my office has always had a system in place where any situation like this would immediately surface and be dealt with.”

Dixon Claims 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series Championship Trophy

October 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Scott Dixon celebrates 2013 Championship win with his team and wife Emma. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Scott Dixon celebrates 2013 Championship win with his team and wife Emma. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

The final race of the IZOD IndyCar Serie season came to a close Saturday with Will Power getting the race win, but it was Scott Dixon of New Zealand who claimed the 2013 Championship Trophy at the end of the race at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Fans were thrilled with the finale, and many said they hope the IndyCar season finale will return to Southern California next year.

Gang Leader Gets 25 Years for Deputy’s Killing

October 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A former gang leader was sentenced Monday to 25 years in federal prison for his part in the drive-by killing of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Escalante and other crimes.

Rudy “Lil’ Psycho” Aguirre Jr., the lead defendant in a 2009 indictment targeting the Avenues gang in northeast Los Angeles, also acted as a bridge to the streets for Mexican Mafia members in Pelican Bay State Prison.

A high-ranking associate of the Mexican Mafia with strong family ties to the prison gang, Aguirre was charged in a host of crimes, including the murder of Escalante and several others.

“No matter what steps criminal gangs like the Mexican Mafia and the Avenues use in attempts to control neighborhoods through intimidation and violence, we will ensure that the residents do not need to live their lives and raise their families in fear,” U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said. “I am proud that my office played an instrumental role in bringing justice to a predator responsible for two murders and overseeing a gang that caused so much harm to northeast Los Angeles.”

According to court documents, 32-year-old Aguirre was authorized by the Mexican Mafia to control the day-to-day activities of the Avenues street gang.

In meetings with members of the prison gang at California penal institutions, he relayed instructions and approval for violent crimes back to the street.

Among other things, Aguirre was given the authority to designate individuals to collect extortionate “taxes” from drug dealers and others living and working in the area claimed by the Avenues gang. These “taxes” would then be funneled to the Mexican Mafia.

As part of his role in the Avenues, Aguirre shot and killed a rival gang member in 1999 in the Cypress Park area, according to his plea agreement.

He also admitted that he authorized the 2008 murder of an Avenues member because he and others believed that man was skimming money collected on behalf of the gang and the Mexican Mafia.

Most of the 88 defendants named in the indictment have previously been sentenced.

A co-defendant – Carlos Renterria, who admitted that he shot two rival gang members in the head at close range in an attempt to murder them, and that he plotted to murder a fellow Avenues gang member – also received a 25-year prison term from U.S. District Judge George H. Wu earlier this month.

Escalante was shot and killed Aug. 2, 2008 outside his Cypress Park home in a case of mistaken identity as he was getting ready to go to work at Men’s Central Jail. The 27-year-old father of three was not in uniform at the time of the drive-by shooting.

Prosecutors said his killers – members of the Avenues gang – believed the deputy was a rival gang member.

Edison Accepting Applications for STEM Focused Scholarship

October 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

High school seniors who are planning to study science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields in college may be eligible for one of several $40,000 scholarships being offered by Edison International (EIX), parent company of Southern California Edison (SCE), under the 2013-14 Edison Scholars Programs.

$1.2 million in scholarships will be awarded to 30 Southern California students who either live in or attend public or private high schools in SCE’s service area. Applicants must be planning to pursue college studies in the STEM fields. The $40,000 grants will be paid out over four years, according to SCE.

The deadline to apply is Jan. 10, 2014.

“The Edison Scholars Program is an excellent opportunity for any high school student in our service area who has a 2.8 GPA or better and wants to pursue higher education in the STEM fields,” said Tammy Tumbling, director of Philanthropy and Community Investment for SCE. “If you know high school seniors who qualify and would benefit from the four-year scholarship, please pass the word along and encourage them to apply.”

Since 2006, Edison International has awarded almost $4 million in scholarships to 460 students.

“At Edison International, we realize that higher education is a transformative tool that fuels the future,” Tumbling said. “As an energy company, we recognize the skills needed for our future workforce and to help advance our country.”

To apply or get more information about the program, visit www.scholarsapply.org/edisonscholars. Scholarship recipients will be announced in April 2014 and recipients may also be eligible for summer internships at SCE after completing their second year of college.  Dependents of Edison International employees are not eligible for the Edison Scholars Program.

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