As a biographer of Ronald Reagan, I’m constantly asked to compare today’s fiscal/economic situation to what Reagan faced in the 1980s. Today’s record debt/deficits remind of the 1980s, though today’s are far worse, with the deficit at least six times as high—and debt-to-GDP and deficit-to-GDP ratios two and three times (respectively) higher. The current economy is the worst since the early 1980s, with a prolonged non-recovering “recovery” older still. By 1984, the Reagan recovery was not just in bloom but exploding, with dramatically improved unemployment and economic growth six times higher than the current anemic rate, awarding Reagan millions of Democratic votes as he swept 49 of 50 states in his re-election.
But one comparison I haven’t been asked about are today’s homeless levels vs. those under Reagan. That’s a notable omission. One who has noticed is Dr. Tracy Miller, an economist and colleague of mine. Miller recently visited Chicago, where he went to graduate school in the 1980s, and was struck by what he saw. “I couldn’t help but notice the large number of homeless people in the downtown area,” says Miller, “including one homeless man pushing a child in a stroller.”
Miller observes: “Homelessness was frequently discussed during the 1980s, but seems to receive less media attention now. And yet, the number of homeless today is approximately twice as large as it was in the 1980s.”
Miller is correct. According to data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there is at least twice the number of homeless today than at a comparable point in Reagan’s first term. HUD estimated that there were 250,000-350,000 homeless on a typical night at the end of 1983. As Dr. Miller notes, this compares with an estimated 636,000 homeless at the end of 2011, the figures heading into the fourth year of Obama’s presidency.
And yet, when Ronald Reagan faced re-election, liberal Democrats made homelessness a huge political issue, portraying the homeless as stacked like cord wood on every street corner. They made wildly unsubstantiated claims. One source maintained there were 250,000 homeless in Chicago alone—an impossible number that the media nonetheless happily reported. Homeless advocates like the late Mitch Snyder described dire scenarios in the nation’s capital.
Those of us who lived through this spectacle recall that you couldn’t turn on the nightly news without grim “homeless updates.” It seemed a regular nightly report by Dan Rather on CBS Evening News. It was framed as a national pandemic, laid at the cold, uncaring feet of Reaganomics. It was used against President Reagan with great vigor and viciousness in his re-election bid.
And yet, the numbers today, during President Obama’s re-election bid, are worse. A report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness lists 636,017 homeless in 2011—which is actually down slightly from 2009, when the numbers were 643,067. The report, titled “State of Homelessness in America 2012,” suggests the small decrease of 7,000 might be attributable to the decrease in homeless military veterans: “The largest decrease was among homeless veterans, whose population declined 11 percent. The number of homeless veterans went from 75,609 in 2009 to 67,495 in 2011—a reduction of about 8,000.”
Unfortunately, the reports also states that “While the homeless population decreased nationally, it increased in 24 states and the District of Columbia.”
The year 2011 is the most recent year for which data is provided. I suspect that the numbers are worse for 2012, given the chronic long-term unemployment and the record 47 million Americans on food stamps.
Either way, 636,000 homeless is an eye-opening statistic, as is the sight of the homeless. I recently visited California. I was stunned by all the homeless I encountered in beautiful, wealthy towns like Santa Barbara. It’s impossible to walk down the street and not get asked for money. Not coincidentally, perhaps, it was just reported that Erin Moran, star of the 1970s hit TV show, “Happy Days,” is homeless.
All of this begs a question: Why isn’t this being talked about? In the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was president, all you heard about were the homeless. The media went bonkers over the issue. Until the moment he left office, the press hounded Reagan about the homeless and his alleged responsibility for their plight.
In fact, still today, liberals use the homeless to discredit the Reagan record. Liberal websites run headlines like “How Reagan Created the Homeless” and “Reagan and the Homeless Epidemic in America.”
Why isn’t the media talking about the homeless under President Obama? Why aren’t liberals? Do they suddenly no longer care about the homeless? Or are the homeless merely a convenient political tool, to be ignored or exploited depending on whose party is up for re-election?
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of the book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.”
A gang member who ambushed a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy as he was preparing to leave for work pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen immediately sentenced Carlos Velasquez – who had been facing a potential death sentence had he gone to trial – to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Velasquez, 28, gunned down Deputy Juan Abel Escalante on Aug. 2, 2008, about 5:35 a.m. in the Cypress Park area of Los Angeles as the 27-year-old father of three was getting ready to go to work at the Men’s Central Jail.
Escalante, a former U.S. Army reservist, was not in uniform.
Velasquez admitted a special circumstance allegation that Escalante’s murder was carried out to further the activities of a criminal street gang, along with gun discharge and gang allegations. He also pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.
“I think it was a fair disposition to the case,” defense attorney Michael Adelson said outside court.
Deputy District Attorney John Colello said it was a “gang-driven crime.”
“The whole reason they were in there was to hunt for rival gang members,” said the prosecutor, who handled the case with Deputy District Attorney Phil Stirling.
Velasquez, who pumped four bullets into the victim, is the third defendant to plead guilty or no contest in connection with the off-duty deputy’s slaying.
Arnoldo Pineda pleaded no contest in September 2010 to voluntary manslaughter and is facing a 14-year state prison term.
Guillermo Hernandez, 24, pleaded no contest in April to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 21 years in state prison. He waived credit for three years he had already served behind bars, Colello said.
Three others are still charged.
Jose Renteria, 21, is accused of supplying Velasquez with the handgun used in the killing.
Armando Albarran, 30, is awaiting extradition from Mexico, where he was arrested in May, and another man, Roberto Salazar, 26, is still wanted, Colello said.
Garfield and Roosevelt high schools square off Friday in the 78th East Los Angeles Classic in what could be a classic.
Roosevelt will win the Eastern League title with a victory and take a week off before entering the City Section Division I football playoffs Nov. 9.
A win by Garfield, however, and the Bulldogs move into a first place tie, with one game left on their schedule.
“I think this is going to be one of the more exciting games we’ve played in this series,” Garfield Coach Lorenzo Hernandez said. “It’s going to determine the league outcome and playoff berths. It’s going to be a great environment to play a game.”
As part of spirit week leading into the game at each school, the teams attended a news conference Wednesday to promote the game that annually draws a capacity crowd of 20,000 to East Los Angeles College Stadium.
Roosevelt has won eight straight since losing its season opener to Montebello in August and is 5-0 in the Eastern League. Garfield is 3-5 overall and 3-1 in league.
The Rough Riders on paper look like the favorites this year, but are they?
“For the last six years we’ve been the underdog – and I’m not sure who determines that – but nothing has changed,” said Javier Cid, who’s now in his seventh year as head coach at Roosevelt. “Garfield is a very good team and they have more size and a little more speed than we do. We will have to beat them with a little more heart, and we will have to win the mental game by making less mistakes than they do.”
Roosevelt is led by running back Gilbert Herrera, quarterback David Arriaga, slot back Daniel Arriaga and wide receivers Kenny Orellana and Jose Mariscal. Defensively, the Rough Riders are led by linebackers Chris Campos, Juan Garcia and Jonathan Godoy and tackle Miles Tabarez.
“Roosevelt’s offense is putting up points, and their defense plays fast, aggressive and relentless,” Hernandez said. Garfield running back Lance Fernandez rushed for 152 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to a 29-15 win in last year’s meeting. He had 173 yards in Garfield’s 13-3 win in 2010.
The senior is regaining his form after having missed the season’s first five games with a knee injury.
“I’m really impressed with Fernandez and (fullback Larry) Ravelo in the way they work together and block for each other,” Cid said. “Garfield is going to be tough to stop.”
Garfield will most likely need another big night from Fernandez and Ravelo, who rushed for 95 yards in last year’s meeting.
“Our offense is going to have to help our defense by sustaining long drives to keep Roosevelt’s offense off the field,” Hernandez said.
Garfield’s offense is also led by quarterback Joshua Mendoza and wide receiver Juan Munoz. Ends Ramon Sierra and Emiliano Aguilar lead the defense, along with linebackers Antonio Huezo, Frankie Saucedo and Alejandro Lupercio.
Roosevelt leads the all-time series, 39-32-6, but Garfield has won six of the last eight meetings, including a City Section playoff game between the schools in 2007.
The varsity game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.
More than four months after Los Angeles County election officials declared a winner in the Vernon council race, the Vernon City Council on Monday declared a new winner, accepting the “findings, conclusions, and recommendations” of a special hearing officer brought in to independently evaluate claims of voter fraud during the June 5 Special Municipal Election.
By a 3-to-0 vote, Vernon city council members during Monday’s special meeting accepted the decision rendered by Vernon Election Contest Hearing Officer Debra Wong Yang, who heard three days of testimony related to charges by the Vernon Chamber of Commerce that as many as 10 non-Vernon residents had voted illegally.
Yang disqualified 7 of the ballots cast, swinging the election from Reno Bellamy to Luz Martinez, who won by three votes.
Martinez was sworn in following the council’s certification of the vote, according to a statement put out by the city. She will fill out the term left vacant by the retirement of former Mayor Hilario Gonzalez.
“I take my new responsibilities very seriously. I pledge to work hard as your Council member. I pledge to fairly represent the interests of our city’s residents and voters. I pledge to support our businesses and their workers. If business and labor work together – as they have in the past – we can achieve great things in our city,” said Martinez in the city’s news release.
She went on to say that the city is facing new challenges, but she is confident they can be overcome “if we stay on the road to reform our city.”
In other related city business, the council voted 4-0 to make William “Bill” Davis, Vernon Mayor Pro Tem for the past year, Vernon’s new mayor. The position of mayor is not an elected post, but one that is bestowed by members of the city council.
“For the past year, I have been very proud to serve as our city’s Mayor Pro Tem. I have learned a great deal. I have grown tremendously,” Davis said, according to the city’s release.
“ I have come to greatly appreciate the role and responsibility of leadership. I am honored that my fellow Council members have placed their faith in me by choosing me to serve as Mayor of the City of Vernon.”
He said the city fought off disincorporation and has implemented many “important reforms that have opened the door to a New Vernon. We have more reforms to implement that can help make our city a model city. I am honored to be able to do my part to bring these important changes about.”
Councilman W. Michael McCormick, will succeed Davis as Vernon’s Mayor Pro Tempore.
Negative perceptions about generic drugs are more widespread among ethnic minorities than among whites, finds a new study in Ethnicity & Disease. Greater use of generic drugs, say the authors, could significantly reduce two major problems: patients’ failing to take medications properly because they cannot afford brand name drugs and the amount spent overall on prescription medications.
“A lot of people can’t afford their medicine. They end up in the ER for something preventable,” said Anthony Omojasola, DrPH, the study’s lead author. “We wanted to see if people were aware of generic drug discount programs and, if they were aware, why they would or would not participate.”
Discount programs offered by retailers such as Wal-Mart offer many common generic drugs for $4 for a 30-day supply. The authors add that most doctors seldom ask patients about problems paying for prescriptions and patients seldom raise such problems with physicians.
The study results come from a survey of Houston residents with incomes under $30,000 with a chronic condition requiring a prescription drug or a family member with such a condition. Most respondents were female (77 percent) and African-American (67 percent).
The researchers found no significant differences by race/ethnicity in the use of generic drug discount programs. About 75 percent of survey participants agreed that generics are “equal in quality” to, just “as safe as” and “just as effective as” brand name drugs. However, negative perceptions about the potential for side effects and about “inferiority” of generics compared to brand name drugs were more pronounced among minority group members than among white participants.
Compared to non-Hispanic whites, blacks and Hispanics were 10 times as likely to agree that generic drugs had more side effects than brand name ones. They were also 4 times as likely as whites to agree that generics were inferior to brand name drugs. Still, negative perceptions did not prevent minorities from using generic drugs.
Gerard Anderson, Ph.D. of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health commented that while generic drugs are therapeutically equivalent to brand name drugs, patients often lack this information; generic drug companies don’t advertise like companies promoting brand name drugs.
Anderson added the fact that minorities are more suspicious of generic drugs is not so surprising, he said, “What is more surprising is that in spite of this suspicion they are willing to participate in generic substitution programs.”
Omojasola’s team called for physicians and pharmacists to better educate patients about the general equivalency of generic and brand name drugs to reduce concerns about generic substitutions and medication costs for patients and society.
“In my campaign literature for state assembly, I stated that I have a PhD from USC. While I have finished all of my course work, I technically am only a PhD candidate,” said Cristina Garcia, a candidate in the 58th Assembly District race whose academic qualifications and titles have become an issue in the race.
Garcia, who previously ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Bell Gardens City Council, became an outspoken voice for “Basta!,” an anti-corruption group in the city of Bell, where a number of elected and appointed city officials were forced out of office as part of corruption probe and recall campaign.
During the recall, challengers to the incumbents supported by Basta demanded greater transparency in government.
Garcia released the statement on Oct. 11 along with copies of her USC transcripts.
“I have yet to finish the final process of my PhD, which is defending my dissertation. I will fulfill that final responsibility in the near future,” Garcia explained.
Garcia said she “humbly” apologizes for “using the term PhD instead of PhD candidate” in her campaign material.
She goes on to explain that she completed her class work in 2009 and took her exams to receive the PhD in Public Administration…
“Again, I ask forgiveness and understanding of all the voters of the 58th Assembly District. I remain dedicated to helping to provide the people I hope to serve with government that is transparent and ethical.”
The 58th Assembly district includes the cities of Bell Gardens, Montebello, Commerce, Downey, Artesia, Santa Fe Springs, Pico Rivera, and Norwalk.
Garcia’s opponent is republican candidate Patricia Kotze-Ramos. Garcia and Kotze-Ramos received more votes than incumbent Tom Calderon in the June 2012 primary election.
Thursday, Oct. 25
8am-Noon—Free Flu shots at the Arroyo Vista Family Health Center in Highland Park for anyone over the age of 6 months. No appointment is necessary; but supplies are limited so come early. Arroyo Vista is located at 6000 N. Figueroa St. LA 90042. For more information, call (323) 987-2007 or (323) 987-2028.
7pm—Dia de Los Muertos at Historical Olvera Street Marketplace with Candlight Novenarios procession; nightly at 7pm. through Nov. 2. Children’s workshops from 9am-1pm Oct. 25-26 & Nov. 1-2. This weekend, Oct. 27-28 & next Nov. 3-4, enjoy face painting, street theater performances, strolling mariachi bands, Aztec dancers, art workshops, puppets, ballet folklorico, piñatas and other fun family activities from 12 noon to 6pm. El Pueblo is located at 125 Paseo de la Plaza in downtown LA (across from Union Station.) For more information call (213) 625-7074 or go to www.lacity.org/elp
Friday, Oct. 26
8pm—The Independent Shakespeare Company presents RED BARN, an original musical based on the true story of the 1827 murder of Maria Martenat the hands her gentleman lover at the Independent Studio. Show runs Thurs- Sat at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. through Nov. 18. Tickets: $25 general admission; $15 for students. Location: Independent Studio, 3191 Casitas Ave., Suite 168 LA 90039 Visit www.iscla.org or call (818) 710-6306 for tickets or more information.
Saturday, Oct. 27
9am-3pm—Too Toxic to Trash: Free Countywide Household Hazardous and E-Waste Roundup in Montebello. Residents can safely discard of household hazardous waste such as antifreeze, unused medications, car batteries, used motor oil, paint, pesticides; sharps waste such as hypodermic needles, pen needles, syringes, lancets, and intravenous needles; universal waste including household batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, and electronic waste such as TVs and monitors, computers, VCRs, stereos and cell phones. Drop off site: The Shops at Montebello-Overflow Parking Lot-Plaza Drive & Montebello Blvd. For more information, call LA County Dept. of Public Works at 1(888) CLEAN LA or go to www.888CleanLA.com or the Sanitation Districts of LA County at 1 (800) 238-0172 or www.lacsd.org.
9am-3pm—Free Used Motor Oil Recycling event sponsored by the Yosemite Recreation Center at 1840 Yosemite Dr., LA 90041. Take your used motor oil and used oil filters for proper recycling or disposal – For more information, call (800) 988-6942 or go to www.lacitysan.org.
9am-3pm—Monterey Park E-waste Recycling Event at the Barnes Park Service Clubhouse. Residents can get rid of old computers and electronics without even getting out of their car. Workers will safely unload electronic waste from automobiles in the clubhouse parking area. The Clubhouse is located at 440 S. McPherrin Ave., Monterey Park, 91754. For more information, call 909-467-4800 or visit http://www.onestoprecycler.com.
Saturday, Oct. 27
9am-1pm—MUSD Students Farmers Market fundraiser sponsored by the Campaign for a Healthier Bell Gardens. Buy organic produce grown at local schools, healthy snacks, plants. Event includes a rummage sale, crafts and information from health care providers. Rain or shine on the Bell Gardens Intermediate School soccer field: 5841 Live Oak St., Bell Gardens, 90201. For more information, call (562) 927-1319.
Friday, November 2
6-8pm—Forest Lawn Covina & Forest Lawn Cypress host free 3rd Annual Dia de los Muertos events, where family and friends can honor, celebrate and remember loved ones who have passed away. Bring a photo of a loved one to place on community altar. Events include live mariachi music, Aztec dancers and a special ceremony. Forest Lawn Covina is located at 21300 Via Verde Dr., Covina 91724. Forest Lawn Cypress is located at 4471 Lincoln Ave. Cypress, 90603. For more information, visit www.forestlawn.com or call (800) 445-4303.
Saturday, November 3
9am-3pm—Highland Park Senior Citizen Center Annual Rummage Sale. Lots of great things to buy, including clothing, items for the home or for enjoyment. Shopping Bag $3. The center is located at 6152 N. Figueroa St., LA 90042. For more information, call (323) 256-6866.
Friday, Oct. 26
5:30-8:30pm—Hathaway – Sycamores Annual Harvest Festival. Enjoy a night full of fun & games, storytelling, dance & music performances, arts & crafts and more. Take part in the costume parade & win prizes. The Center is located at 840 N. Ave. 66 LA (Highland Park) 90042. For more information, call (323) 257-9600 ext 7100.
7:30-9:30pm—“Family Fright Night” at Commerce Veterans Memorial Park. Bring the family to “Caspar” on the big screen. The park is located at 6364 Zindell Ave., Commerce. For more information, call (562) 927-1515.
Saturday, Oct. 27
10am-3pm—LAPD Northeast Area Community Police Annual Open House and Resource Fair. Get to know your local police while enjoying pumpkin decorating, music, free hot dogs & a Halloween contest with prizes for kids 12 and under. Take a tour of the station located at 3353San Fernando Rd, LA 90065. Find out how you can become part of Community Policing, volunteer opportunities, and how to get your kids involved in wholesome activities, LAPD Cadet program and youth boxing program through the Police Activities League.
7-11pm—TERA’s Cirque du Rock at the Twentieth Century Women’s’ Club in Eagle Rock. Cirque du Rock is a unique celebration honoring the spirit of Halloween and paying homage to the special feeling of the circus of our youth. Women’s Twentieth Century Club is located at 5105 Hermosa Ave. LA 90041. A wide array of beverages will be for sale at the Three Ring Bar. where a wide array of beverages will be available for purchase. Take part in circus costume contest. Tickets are on sale now at www.tera90041.org. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (323)799-1190.
Tuesday, Oct. 30
3-8pm—Weekly Old L.A. Farmers Market in Highland Park Hosts Halloween Fair. Children (and adults), come in costume, watch entertainers, participate in costume contests, listen to the music, and more while shopping for fresh fruits & vegetables, other foods & crafts. Farmers and other vendors, and entertainment located on Avenue 58 between Figueroa & Marmion Way, and adjacent to the Highland Park Metro Station.
3:30pm—Malabar Branch Library Day of the Dead workshop. Create Artesanias Mexicanas (Mexican folk art) in preparation and celebration for their Day of the Dead community altar and celebration. The library is located at 2801 Wabash Ave. LA 90033. For more information, call (323) 263-1497.
Wednesday, Oct. 31
4-7pm—Atlantic Square in Monterey Park Presents ‘trick or Treat Halloween Night,” a safe and fun place to gather treats and parade your costume with family & friends. Look for the pumpkin in the window for participating stores. Atlantic Square is located on South Atlantic Blvd & Riggin Street in Monterey Park.
4-8pm—LA City Parks & Recreation presents “Spooktacular” for a safe & fun Halloween. People of all ages can enjoy a variety of activities –costume contests, game booths, arts & crafts, refreshments, face painting, spooky movies and more – at their local neighborhood park and recreation center. For more information, contact your local park or visit www.laparks.org or call (213) 202-2700.
6pm—Halloween Parade and Games at all City of Commerce Parks. All ages welcome; trophies awarded by age group. For more information, call (323) 887-4434.
7-10pm—Bell Gardens Haunted Neighborhood Youth Center. Have you ever heard the true story about the ghosts that haunt the NYC? No made up stories or Urban Legends here! Join us as we take you on a tour of this haunted facility: 586 Ludell St., Bell Gardens. All Ages $1 . For more information, call (562) 806-7667.
To view EGPNews Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos Calendar of Events, go to www.EGPNews.com
The nonprofit League of American Bicyclists on Oct. 18 named Los Angeles a “Bicycle Friendly Community,” citing the city’s work in the last five years promoting cycling, adding miles of bikeways and establishing a long-range bike plan.
City Councilman Ed Reyes accepted a bronze award from the League on the city’s behalf during a ceremony at MacArthur Park.
“More and more people are leaving their car keys at home and taking advantage of L.A.’s bicycle-friendly streets,” Reyes said. “We are leading the nation as a bicycle-friendly city, thanks to an active bike culture and bicycle advocates working with the city.”
The League recognized the city’s 2010 Bicycle Master Plan for adding 75 miles of new bikeways in 2011. The plan envisions the creation of about 1,600 miles of bikeways and a significant increase in bike parking in the city over the next 30 years.
The League also recognized the city’s support for the extremely popular CicLAvia events held semi-annually since October 2010, during which nearly 10 miles of city streets are closed to cars for cyclists, pedestrians, runners, skateboarders and others to use as a park.
“The latest round of BFC awards proves yet again that any city –regardless of size or geography – can take cost-effective steps to increasing bicycling in their community,” League President Andy Clarke said. “We are excited that Los Angeles recognizes that simple steps to making biking safe and comfortable pay huge dividends in civic, community and economic development.”
Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition Planning and Policy Director Eric Bruins credited Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the city’s Department of Transportation for fostering a strong bike culture in the city and going “above and beyond” to serve cyclists.