Thousands of County Workers Rally for Better Pay

October 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Roughly 2,000 union members assembled on Grand Avenue Tuesday to push for what they say is a fair shake from Los Angeles County, while the county’s chief executive said it was offering a 6 percent wage increase over three years.

Police officers along the march route said they expected 3,000-5,000 people to join the rally and march through downtown to the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration.

A band played Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” and Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up,” from the back of a truck as labor leaders prompted the purple- shirted crowd in a call and response: “They say cut back,” “We say fight back.”

“We’ve brought thoughtful proposals that would benefit Angelenos of all stripes to the bargaining table,” said David Green, a children’s social worker and treasurer for Service Employees International Union Local 721. “The county has been ignoring the needs of L.A. residents by dragging its heels and failing to negotiate seriously.”

But a county spokesman said a proposal is already on the table offering a 2 percent wage increase this month, 2 percent next October and 2 percent in April 2015, a deal similar to one tentatively accepted by 21 of 28 non-public safety unions.

“What we have on the table is a conservative, financially viable salary increase,” said county spokesman David Sommers.

But a union spokesman flatly denied that the union had received that proposal.

“That deal has not been offered to us,” said SEIU spokesman Lowell Goodman.

Goodman declined to say whether a 6 percent increase would be accepted or precisely what level of wage would be acceptable.

“Then I’d be doing the work of the bargaining team,” Goodman said.

He did say that workers had been asked to contribute more to their healthcare premiums at a level that would, in many cases, exceed the amount of a 2 percent raise.

About half of the roughly 55,000 SEIU local union members earn $40,000 a year or less, Goodman said, while the county spokesman cited the average salary, which he calculated at $53,800 per year.

Union members are also pressing for non-economic terms, like a stronger rideshare program to reduce traffic congestion and a move to close property tax loopholes for large corporations.

“Bargaining is a chance for our members … to bargain around things that will improve their jobs and the lives of the citizens of Los Angeles County,” Goodman said. But the county has “said no to everything non-economic.”

Sommers said the SEIU employees — who include nurses, social workers, park employees and librarians — provide services he called “critical,” but that the county was prepared to provide residents the services they need despite the walkout.

“We have not seen any massive shortfall of staff,” Sommers said. “No department has raised a red flag yet.”

Union organizers and county officials agree that county employees deserve higher wages after nearly five years without any increase.

“All of our labor partners did this incredible thing over the last four years. We haven’t had to cut public services … because labor agreed to forego raises during the recession,” Sommers said.

But they seem to disagree about what is on offer. The parties are no longer at the bargaining table and any new proposal will require a vote by the Board of Supervisors at its next public meeting scheduled for Oct. 8, according to Goodman.

The union representative stressed that it is not a strike and employees will return to work Wednesday morning.

“The county is optimistic that we will have a resolution soon,” Sommers said.

Traffic was shut down on Grand Avenue between First and Fourth streets to accommodate the march.

Farmer John Targeted by World Farm Animals Day Protest

October 3, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Over 100 animal-rights activist protested outside the Farmer Johns chicken procession facility in Vernon Saturday to commemorate World Day for Farm Animals (pictured), officially observed on Oct.2. Saturday’s peaceful protest did not require any action by police, said Vernon Police Chief Danielle Calleros. However, the demonstration did cause the facility to remain on lockdown throughout the day, preventing some employees from going to work.

Police Seek More Victims of Sexual Assault Suspect

October 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Police on Monday asked for the public’s assistance in identifying additional possible victims of a man accused of assaulting two young men, one of them a minor, in less than an hour in the Los Feliz area.

34-year-old John Everett Perry, a resident of Palm Springs, is accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old Hispanic boy at about 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 24. Perry told the teen he was a modeling agent and asked him if he was interested in modeling, according to Northeast LAPD Det. Michelle Gomez. Perry allegedly lured the teenager into his vehicle where he sexually assaulted him, Gomez said.

 John Everett Perry was released last week on bail; he is due in court on Oct. 21. (LAPD)

John Everett Perry was released last week on bail; he is due in court on Oct. 21. (LAPD)

About 45 minutes later and just a block away, Perry allegedly approached a 25-year-old Caucasian male inside a Starbucks located in the 2900 block of Los Feliz Boulevard, this time telling the alleged victim he was a fashion photographer before luring him into a bathroom where the sexual assault took place, police said.

“One of the victims is a juvenile and the adult is actually a very young looking adult—he definitely doesn’t look his age—so I’m sure the intention was a younger man,” Gomez told EGP, responding to a question regarding whether the cases involve pedophilia.

Because it was so easy for Perry to talk his victims into going to a secluded area, police believe there are likely other victims who have not reported their assault.

Northeast LAPD Captain Jeff Bert said they worked with the Palm Springs Police Department to execute a search warrant and arrest Perry at his home last Wednesday, Sept. 25.

“We’re really interested in the fact that there might be more victims because this suspect’s motive operandi is very particular, he used no force, he was friendly and he used a ruse—interested in modeling—and really committed two crimes within minutes of each other,” Bert told reporters. “So frequency, the style of it, it doesn’t make sense. We personally believe there may be more victims out there that are too scared, because of the type of crime that occurred, to come to the police.”

Gomez said the crimes involve male victims, which are not as common, so they are concerned additional victims are afraid to report the crimes.

Northeast Area Sexual Assault detectives believe there could be more victims in Palm Springs, the Los Angeles area and Orange County, Gomez said.

Perry was described as Hispanic when the crimes were reported, but detectives believe he is part Asian. He is accused of sexual assault and committing lewd acts on a child under 16, according to police.

Perry was released on $75,000 bail the day after being arrested. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Downtown Los Angeles on Oct. 21.

Anyone with information is asked to call the LAPD Northeast Area Sexual Assault Detective Gomez or Detective Salazar at (323) 344-5742. Tipsters who wish to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).

A New Vision for Eagle Rock’s Colorado Blvd

October 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The launch of an initiative to spur economic revitalization and community pride along a stretch of Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock was celebrated last week at the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock at the same time the number of traffic lanes along the boulevard were being reduced from three in each direction to two to make room for freshly painted bike lanes.

This rendering shows new landscaping, green bike lanes and enhanced “zebra” cross walk markings at the corner of Shearin Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. (Colorado Blvd Vision Plan)

This rendering shows new landscaping, green bike lanes and enhanced “zebra” cross walk markings at the corner of Shearin Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. (Colorado Blvd Vision Plan)

The 103-page Colorado Blvd Vision Plan is a community-driven effort that resulted from numerous meetings and research since 2011. The “Take Back the Boulevard” (TBTB) steering committee has pushed forward the plan, which they describe on their website as a long-term road map for the area.

The plan aims to improved safety, create a pleasant environment, support local businesses on the stretch of Colorado from about Sierra Villa Drive, near Eagle Rock Plaza, to Figueroa Street.

Prior to the construction of the nearby 134 Freeway, Colorado Boulevard was a major thoroughfare connecting Glendale and Pasadena. Both ends of Colorado Boulevard, in Glendale and Pasadena, have two lanes of traffic in each direction. There used be three in Eagle Rock

“It will not have that freeway feeling anymore. It will feel more profoundly like the small town Eagle rock likes to feel that it is,” says Bob Gotham, president of The Eagle Rock Association (TERA), in a video describing the plan on the association website.

The more intimate “main street” feel will be accomplished by reconfiguring Colorado Boulevard, adding bicycle lanes, preserving or change the landscaping on the traffic medians and islands, improving marked crosswalks, adding sidewalk extensions, curb ramps and shade trees, and creating pedestrian plazas and parklets with street furniture among other features.

Funding for some of the improvements have yet to be identified, however, the bicycle lanes which have caused some controversy, already had funding through the citywide bike plan that Los Angeles adopted in 2011.

A five-minute video on the plan is available at TERA website where the plan can also be viewed or downloaded: http://www.tera90041.org/colorado_blvd_vision_plan.aspx

“Take Back the Boulevard” (TBTB) steering committee is  composed of members from several stakeholder groups including Collaborative Eagle Rock Beautiful, The Eagle Rock Association (TERA), Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce, Eagle Rock Community Preservation and Revitalization Corp., the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College, SALT Landscape Architects, Civic Enterprise, and the Office of Los Angeles Councilmember José Huizar (CD-14).

Authorities Seek ID of Human Remains Found In Montebello

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Authorities sought the public’s help Wednesday to identify a man whose skeletal remains were found near the Rio Hondo Riverbed bike path in Montebello.

The remains were discovered about 11 a.m. July 31 near Lincoln Avenue and San Gabriel Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

Officials released sketches of what the man may have looked like. He was white or Hispanic, between 35 and 55 years of age, and had a partial denture at the back of his lower right jaw. He had no identifying papers, and he had no tattoos.

The case is listed as “John Doe Number 152.” Anyone with information about the man was urged to call the coroner’s Investigator Daniel Machian, (323) 343-0754, or the 24-hour number (323) 343-0714.

 

DMV Internal Investigation Leads to Highland Park

October 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Several police cars and about a dozen officers flooded a residential street off York Boulevard in Highland Park on Tuesday morning. Officers with the State of California Dept. of Motor Vehicles (DMV) went to a home on the 6100 block of Aldama Street to execute a search warrant, according to Area Commander Lilia B. Duarte, of the DMV Investigations Division’s Internal Affairs Branch, based in Sacramento.

Duarte declined to comment on the nature of the investigation or whether anything was seized, but said it is a potential investigation involving an employee of the DMV. The search warrant was executed without incident, she added.

Authorities Investigate Train Fatality In Montebello

October 3, 2013 by · 3 Comments 

An investigation was under way this week into the death of a 16-year-old boy who was struck by a train in Montebello.

Officers were dispatched around 8:20 p.m. Monday to the railroad tracks in the area of Maple and Mines avenues to investigate a report of a dead male on the tracks, said Lt. Michael Bergman of the Montebello Police Department.

“Our preliminary investigation revealed that the subject was struck by a train. We don’t know what train,” Bergman said.

Someone on another train spotted the body and reported it to authorities, he said.

The victim was identified as Tikkri Osario of Montebello, said Lt. Joe Bale of the Los Angeles County coroner’s office. The fatality appeared to have been an accident and not a suicide, he said.

Union Pacific Railroad police were handling the investigation, Bergman said.

I-5 and I-10 Freeway Closures Will Affect East Los Angeles Area

October 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) on Monday announced it will deploy 200 personnel and community service workers for “swarm” maintenance next Sunday, October 6. Sections of the I-5/I-10 interchange will be closed from 5 a.m. to 12 p.m. while crews remove litter, graffiti, trim trees, clear weeds, repair guardrail and irrigation, re-stripe the roadway, re-lamp overhead lights, and replace signs.

Signed detours will be in place, and motorist should expect delays, the agency warned.

The closures will occur at the Westbound I-10 to northbound I-5 connector and Southbound I-5 to eastbound I-10 connector, as well as the following ramps: Southbound I-5 Mission off-ramp, Westbound I-10 State Street off-ramp, Northbound I-5 State Street on-ramp, Northbound I-5 Marengo Street on-ramp, Southbound I-5 Mission onramp, and the Eastbound I-10 Mission on-ramp.

New Traffic Light Goes Up Near Roosevelt High

October 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

(Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilman José Huizar)

(Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilman José Huizar)

 

Roosevelt high school parents and students joined Councilman José Huizar Monday to celebrate a recently installed traffic signal on E. 4th Street and S. Fickett Street in Boyle Heights. The crossing was a persistent concern for parents. The signal was funded by Proposition C, which will fund additional light installations.

Veteranos Crónicamente Sin Techo Tendrán Hogar en Boyle Heights

October 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Un complejo de apartamentos esta bajo construcción en una vecindad del lado Este de la ciudad de Los Ángeles, que alojará a los veteranos ancianos de las fuerzas armadas de EE.UU. y que están crónicamente sin hogar. La construcción de los apartamentos Beswick Senior Apartments—el primero de su tipo en Boyle Heights—está previsto a completarse en otoño de 2014.

Read this story IN ENGLISH: Chronically Homeless Vets to Get Homes in Boyle Heights 

El proyecto de viviendas asequibles tiene una etiqueta de $12.5 millones y esta ubicado en 3553 Beswick Street. Su construcción se celebró la semana pasada con la firma de una viga de construcción en el sitio. Los codesarrolladores East LA Community Corporation (ELACC) y New Directions for Veterans, Inc., y otros asistentes firmaron la viga de madera con marcadores negro.

Los socios del proyecto de viviendas asequibles para veteranos sin hogar de edad avanzada, se reunieron la semana pasada para celebrar la construcción en marcha.  (Foto courtesia de ELACC)

Los socios del proyecto de viviendas asequibles para veteranos sin hogar de edad avanzada, se reunieron la semana pasada para celebrar la construcción en marcha. (Foto courtesia de ELACC)

La viga se incorporará a la estructura de dos pisos con 32 unidades, de un dormitorio, para los veteranos más necesitados.

El complejo de apartamentos está destinado a ser “vivienda de apoyo permanente” para los veteranos crónicamente desamparados y discapacitados—todos los inquilinos tendrán al menos 62 años de edad, de acuerdo con ELACC.

Tony Zapata, un veterano de la marina y el comandante del Poste 4696 de los Veteranos de Guerras en el Extranjero (VFW por sus siglas en inglés), declaró que ya era hora que este tipo de vivienda se creara y que esperaba se construyeran más como este en el futuro.

Zapata, quien dirigió el juramento a la bandera, es residente de Boyle Heights y participó en las reuniones comunitarias presentadas por ELACC sobre el proyecto.

“Estas personas valientes que han dado su servicio a este país merecen una vivienda digna… No puedo soportar ver a un veterano durmiendo debajo de un puente”, dijo Zapata en una declaración escrita.

Miembros del VFW y Zapata ayudarán cambiar el nombre de los apartamentos para reflejar el legado de los veteranos, de acuerdo con ELACC.

La construcción del desarrollo comenzó hace cinco meses y tuvo oposición por algunos residentes, de acuerdo con Maria Cabildo, presidente de ELACC.

“Estas personas [que oponen viviendas para veteranos ancianos crónicamente sin techo] tienen un grave déficit de compasión”, afirmó Cabildo.

El presidente y director ejecutivo de New Direction for Veterans, Gregory Scott, llamó el desarrollo histórico y dijo que su organización quiere algún día eliminar el término “veterano sin hogar.”

Los opositores de las viviendas asequibles en Boyle Heights anteriormente han dicho a EGP que se oponen a este tipo de proyectos, porque descalifican a muchos residentes locales ya que las leyes prohíben prioridad local y porque excluyen a los inmigrantes indocumentados. Al mismo tiempo, se quejan porque estos desarrollos traen a desamparados de otras partes de la ciudad, y estos nuevos inquilinos atraen a sus amistades sin hogar a vagar en la zona.

Los residentes opuestos también temen que las personas crónicamente sin hogar padecen de instabilidad mental, y que algunas de estas enfermedades mentales podrían haber sido causado por trauma.

Sin embargo, según ELACC, el nuevo complejo de apartamentos ofrecerá manejo de casos, servicios de salud mental, y otros servicios en las instalaciones proporcionadas por New Directions.

La zona Este del Condado de Los Ángeles es hogar de 856 veteranos sin hogar según el informe 2011 Greater LA Homeless Count Report, indicó ELACC en un comunicado de prensa.

Otros socios del desarrollo incluyen el Departamento de Asuntos de Veteranos, el Departamento de Asuntos Militares del Condado de Los Ángeles, Servicios de Salud Mental y el YMCA Weingart de East LA.

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