Schurr Takes on Whittier at Home on Friday

October 9, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Schurr High School running back Nick Castillo looks to take it outside in last week’s game against California, which scored a 14-7 victory in the nonleague game. EGP Photo  by Mario VillegasMario Villegas, Exclusive to EGP

After four consecutive road games, Schurr High School will play its first home game of the season Friday when they entertain Whittier in a nonleague football game. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

“Playing at home will be a unique thing for us,” said Schurr Coach Ben Negrete, whose team will play only three games at Schurr this season.

Friday’s game should have been the Spartans’ second home game of 2008, but their Sept. 19 home game with Downey was moved from Schurr to Downey because of a power outage.

The Spartans lost the chance to play at home and then lost the game to Downey (17-13) to start the season 0-2. They defeated Hacienda Heights Wilson (31-28) the next week and then lost to California (14-7) last week to drop to 1-3.

“We were coming off a victory and we didn’t get better,” Negrete said in assessing the loss to California. “We’re still making too many penalties.”

Schurr was penalized 12 times for 130 yards, six of which were for personal fouls.

“My main goal is to see us play a game without making a lot of mistakes,” Negrete said. “If we can do that, we’ll be a pretty decent team.”

Whittier (1-3) has lost three straight since defeating Bell Gardens (33-30) the first week of the season. The Cardinals have since lost to Warren (42-14), Roosevelt (17-14) and Paramount (21-13).

Despite hurting themselves with penalties, the Spartans put up a late rally against California. Down 14-7 with 3:07 remaining in the game, Schurr started its final series at its own 20-yard line. Quarterback Ricky Mendez led the Spartans on a drive to the California 29. But the Spartans came up inches short on a fourth-down play with 23 seconds left.

With the victory, California remained unbeaten (4-0).

The Condors built a 14-0 halftime lead, scoring on a 60-yard pass play and a nine-play, 52-yard drive.
Schurr cut the lead to 14-7 on its second possession of the second half on Nick Castillo’s one-yard touchdown run that ended an 11-play, 55-yard drive. Schurr had only 61 rushing yards with Castillo gaining 48 yards on 11 carries.

“Our running game was sporadic and it seemed that because of the penalties we were always facing first and 15 or second and long,” Negrete said. “We couldn’t get any momentum going.”
Negrete praised the play of Mendez and wide receiver Carlos Arredondo.

“Mendez did a pretty good job and did some good things out there and Arredondo had a pretty good game,” he said.

Gov. Terminates Funds for Elderly and Disabled

October 9, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

As many as 530,000 low income senior and disabled residents took a significant hit in their pocketbook when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger eliminated more than $190 million in homeowner and renter assistance funding from the state budget. The cuts were made to reduce state spending that has left the state in a financial crisis. Two weeks ago Schwarzenegger announced the state would need a $7 billion loan from the federal government at a time when the economic news throughout the nation is reaching a low not seen since the great depression of the 1930’s.

The cuts will eliminate funds for two little-known programs that provide qualified seniors and disabled residents with cash to pay their mortgages or rent. The Homeowners Assistance Program provides an annual payment of up to $472.62, which is based on the property taxes assessed and paid on their homes.

The Renter Assistance Program provides an annual payment of up to $347.50. All applicants must have an annual income of less than $44, 096.

The cuts came after state officials, in partnerships with community organizations, were in the midst of a major publicity campaign to build public awareness of the 25-year-old programs.

Judy Chu, Chair of the California State Board of Equalization, released a statement on Sept. 25 slamming the governor’s cuts.

“It is absolutely unconscionable for the Governor to slash funds from a program that benefits the most vulnerable members of our society,” she said. EGP News published a story in the July 24 edition on a joint news conference held by Chu’s office and the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF) to highlight the program.

Enrique Aranda, director of operations and community services at MAOF, said, “the cuts will have a devastating effect on the least fortunate of society.” He added that staff members who spent many hours conducting community outreach promoting the programs must now inform clients that no funds will be granted this year.

The checks were scheduled to begin to arrive in the mail this month. Instead, the State Franchise Tax Board mailed letters stating that claims could not be honored due to a lack of funds. The claims have not been rejected and will be honored should the funds become available.

Elizabeth Jimenez, director of senior information and assistance services for MAOF, said her office has been overwhelmed this week with clients confused over the letters. Most of her clients do not speak English.

Jimenez said that while the amount granted may appear to be low, it is a significant amount for her clients.
“They are relying on the money to pay bills, medicine and groceries,” she said.

She said that although they are confused, they are not angry.

The statement by Chu was less forgiving.

“They were so hopeful and glad to receive those funds,” she said. “Now the rug is being pulled right out from under them.”

L.A. Council Approves ‘Dodgertown’ Naming

October 9, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council approved a resolution Tuesday to rename the area around Dodger Stadium “Dodgertown” to coincide with a multimillion-dollar renovation to be completed by the stadium’s 50th anniversary and opening day of the 2012 season.

The unanimously approved resolution calls for federal legislation to redraw a ZIP code boundary around Academy Drive to the north, Lookout Drive to the south, stadium Way to the west and Academy Drive/Solano Avenue to the east. The council hopes a local congressional representative will agree to carry the bill.

“This really is about celebrating and memorializing the great tradition that the Dodgers have brought to this town,” said City Councilman Ed Reyes, who represents the area. “This resolution will essentially identify the Dodger property only as Dodgertown. It will not impact surrounding communities, surrounding properties, so all the folks who live around Dodger Stadium need not to worry.”

The Dodgers, enjoying one of their best seasons in decades, swept the Chicago Cubs in the division playoffs, and are taking on the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League championship series starting today.

Dodger Stadium is undergoing a $500 million renovation calling for a promenade, restaurants, museum, and a tree-lined entrance, Dodger Way.

ICE Arrests 1,759, Including Nearly 300 Gang Members

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Federal agents arrested nearly 300 gang members and associates in the Southland during a four-month operation that generated more than 1,700 arrests nationwide.    The arrests were made under Operation Community Shield, a long-term initiative launched by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2005 to disrupt and dismantle “transnational” violent street gangs.

As part of the latest enforcement action, which ended Tuesday, ICE teamed with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to target violent street gangs and their criminal associates in 53 cities across 28 states.

During the operation, ICE agents arrested 1,759 gang members, gang associates, criminals and immigration violators, including 293 suspects in the greater Los Angeles area.

The Southland enforcement activities focused on targets in five area counties: Los Angeles, Riverside/San Bernardino, Orange and Ventura.

More than 70 of those arrested locally during the gang enforcement surge have prior convictions for violent crimes, and nearly 30 of those taken into custody are convicted sex offenders.

“Street gangs prey on the neighborhoods in which they operate, and they instill fear through intimidation and violence,” said ICE Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Julie Myers.    “By partnering with other law enforcement agencies across the country, we are successfully targeting these gangs, arresting their leaders, disrupting their operations, and putting their members and associates behind bars.”

ICE agents arrested 730 people on new criminal charges ranging from attempted murder and aggravated assault to drug and firearms violations and charges of re-entering the country after deportation.

More than 150 of those taken into custody locally during the operation are being prosecuted on federal or state violations.

Among those arrested in the Los Angeles area were:

—Juan Carlos Chavez, a 36-year-old Mexican national and member of the 18th Street Gang. He has prior convictions for firearms violations and battery. Chavez, who was deported from the U.S. in 2006, is being prosecuted for re-entering the country.

—Cesar Jimenez-Ramirez, 22, a Mexican national and suspected member of the Cudahy 13 gang. He has prior convictions for being a felon in possession of a firearm and grand theft. He was deported in June of this year and returned to the U.S. illegally. He is being prosecuted for re-entry after deportation, a felony violation that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Since 2005, ICE has arrested more than 11,100 members and associates from 890 different gangs and seized 388 firearms. Of those arrested, 145 were gang leaders. Many of those arrested under Operation Community Shield are prosecuted and eventually removed from the United States. To date, 3,997 have been charged criminally, and 7,109 have been charged with immigration violations and face deportation.

Montebello Rotarians Participate in Heart of Compassion Food Distribution

October 9, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Anne Donofrio-Holter

Members of the Montebello Rotary Club made a monetary contribution and participated in Heart of Compassion’s food distribution program this past Saturday at Chet Holifield Park.  The Rotarians, along with Heart of Compassion staff and other community volunteers helped off load trucks full of supplies, set up booths and fill the baskets and carts of the more than 2,000 people that came through.
Spearheaded by Pastor Eric Tietze, the monthly distribution program began in 1996 in Pico Rivera and to date has distributed millions of pounds of food and supplies at various locations in the local area.
Saturday’s line extended over a block and lasted several hours as the participants waited patiently to fill their carts with food and household items, school supplies, clothing, shoes and bags of dog and cat food for their pets.
Flyers were distributed at local schools and parks notifying the public of the distribution.
“You don’t need a ticket and no one is turned away,” said Tietze.  “Everyone is welcome here.”
Tietze, who visited the Montebello Rotary Club a few days before the event told members, “While we know we don’t have everything we need as of yet, come to the park on Saturday morning and see a miracle take place as the truckloads of supplies will arrive.”
And arrive, they did.
With audible “thank yous,” a smile or a nod, volunteers who gave up their Saturday morning could not help but came away with a sense of how much this was appreciated by those who patiently weaved their way past each booth.
“This is such a blessing,” said one participant.  “My husband recently lost his job.”
“This event exemplifies Rotary’s motto of ‘Service Above Self,’” said club president Ted Jones.  “Following our discussions with Pastor Eric, we knew we had to be here today and help Heart of Compassion with this great cause.”
“Before seeing the number of people in line today, I never realized the need was so great in Montebello,” said one volunteer.  “Some of us tend to forget how truly blessed we are.”
“The Lord said, ‘I didn’t come to be served, but to serve,’” said Tietze.  “The Rotary Club exemplifies this and their support, along with all the volunteers here today, has been a great encouragement to us.”

Highland Park Hosts First Aerosol Art Competition

October 9, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Highland Park faces the same problem many Los Angeles communities face on a daily basis.  Overnight the walls of businesses and public property are covered in what some refer to as art and others as graffiti resulting from acts of vandalism.  Franklin High School is no stranger to overnight paint jobs.

Students gather at Franklin High School football field to watch participants produce art for the Aerosol Art competition.

Students gather at Franklin High School football field to watch participants produce art for the Aerosol Art competition.

Last month, the high school and Hathaway-Sycamore’s Family Resource Center sponsored an aerosol art competition.  Students from Franklin and Eagle Rock High Schools participated in the first of what coordinators hope to be an annual event, centered on alternative avenues of artistic expression in hopes of discouraging graffiti in the form of vandalism.

Vandalism causes considerable damage to property and can result in serious conflicts among street gangs and non-traditional graffiti gangs.

“The purpose of the aerosol art competition was to allow students to express themselves through another form of art and give them a safe platform to show their talented skills and creativity amongst the community of Highland Park,” said Aries Santiago, Youth Program coordinator.

Participants were required to sign a peace pledge, written by coordinators with input from students, outlining their commitment to practicing art in appropriate venues and promoting peace, culture, education, and safety.

Students swore, “I will not damage other art work or private property in my community and wherever I stand,” “I will obey the laws of the land and will not participate in defacing private property and endangering my life or those around me,” and “I will strive to be a law obeying citizen and create value wherever I go,” among other points as stated in the pledge.

Franklin High School is displaying the artwork of the competition winners.

“The kids that presented themselves said they were tired of seeing graffiti in the hallways [of their school] and wanted to see other forms of art…  With the winners’ art displayed for the first time in the school, hopefully, this will help encourage other forms of art and decrease graffiti within the school and community,” said Santiago.

But Franklin High School’s Principal Luis Lopez explains that while the event was productive and positive for the community he sees little impact and is not relying on it to help decrease vandalism, “Usually those that participate [in these events] are kids that are artistic and creative.  We don’t attract the vandals.”  He adds,

“I have mixed feelings.  I don’t see it.  I have thought about exploring different possibilities that offer the same thing, but there’s no tangible data that says it works.  It has been done at other schools but there’s no real decrease in graffiti.”

Instead Lopez employs the “Broken Window” theory: “We have the same policies and application as businesses: as it comes up, we take it down.  As soon as it goes up it invites more graffiti.”

Overall, Lopez calls the event successful in uniting the community of Highland Park.   While the event may not have immediate impact on the reduction of graffiti, it did bring together a community in a safe environment.  Lopez also recognizes the need to provide students with alternative forms of expression and hopes that it becomes a reoccurring event stating, “This is a venue that they need and we need to provide it.”

When All Else Fails, Lie

October 9, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Can anyone blame Americans for their complete lack of confidence in the country’s financial system? AIG now says the $85 billion it’s getting from taxpayers in the form of an emergency bailout is not enough. The company now says it needs another $30 billion to try and get out of its financial mess.  And why shouldn’t they ask for more?  Didn’t Treasury Secretary Paulson say they are too big to fail?

The latest boondoggle deal passed, oops, we mean rescue plan, passed by Congress, is sure to have many more companies crying they need more.

There’s no doubt that deregulation has allowed the greed and recklessness, and deep pocket padding to go unabated. You were told that it would be good for the economy, drive prices down, increase corporate investment, and create jobs. Gee, we guess they overstated their promises.

We believe that Americans have allowed their government and Wall Street to believe that anything they do in the name of Capitalism is good.  It’s almost become a religion in the market.  The congress, the President’s administration and sadly Americans have fallen for it.

And last week when the Senate and the Congress had an opportunity to tighten controls and protect the public, they instead decided to write a $700 billion dollar check to those who created the economic mess, and hope it all turns out okay.

So now we have a hangover from all the spending and still many refuse to face the truth.  First, we are still not prepared to run our government and our own line of credit in a more austere manner.  We prefer to spend $700 billion to save profligate financial institutions, and in case that’s not enough, we’ve got more money ready to dish out.

And, instead of admitting that our excesses have put us in a deep dark hole and its going to take time to figure out how to get out, our so-called leaders believe if all else fails, lie.

And as the cookie crumbles, state governments and, yes, local governments too, continue to go on spending binges, and in the November election, they will continue to ask poor over-burdened tax payers to ante up more money: “We Need it!”

Haven’t they ever heard the old fairy tale about killing the golden goose — taxpayers that is.
What really makes us laugh (maybe we should be crying) is all these pundits who go around telling taxpayers that we need to save. They mean them, not us.

Prop 11 Will Devastate Latino and Black Representation

October 9, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

While it may be well intended, Proposition 11, the “California Voter First Initiative,” if passed, could have a devastating impact on the retention and the creation of a significant number of California Assembly, Senate and Congressional districts where the African-American and Latino communities currently and in the future would be able to elect candidates of their own choice.

This initiative does not protect the interest of minority voters and take politics out of redistricting as supporters would lead you to believe.  In fact, it will potentially have a destructive impact on the Latino and African-American communities’ ability to continue to elect candidates of their choice to the state Assembly and Senate, and on Congressional districts.

First, this constitutional amendment creates a random selection process for the diverse commission.  If the majority of the commissioners selected under this process do not belong to a political party where most Black and Latinos are registered to vote, this could lead to a small applicant pool of Black and Latino candidates for the openings on the commission. In addition, after the first eight commissioners are selected, then those 8 would select 6 additional commissioners with 2/3 of those not coming from the political party that has the overwhelming number of Black and Latino registered voters.

Second and most significant, some of the criteria that this initiative places in the State of California Constitution could have a major negative impact on districts where the African-American and Latino communities can presently or could in the future elect candidates of their own choice. This negative impact could occur because the United States Supreme Court in its next session will review the North Carolina Supreme Court decision in the case of Bartlett v Strickland. This extremely significant redistricting case deals with the issue of what is the legal standard for determining whether a minority district is protected under Section 2 of the Federal Voting Rights Act. In that case, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that established redistricting case law “only mandates that a state draw a majority-minority district in compliance with the Voting Rights when a minority group is sufficiently large to be 50% or more of a single member district.” In that case the North Carolina State Constitution had a whole county provision.  The African-American district split that county and was under 50% Black voting age population. The court ruled that the district was in violation of the North Carolina state constitution and had to be redrawn.

Unfortunately, the California Voter First Initiative adds to the state constitution new language concerning the preserving of communities of interest and neighborhoods in the construction of legislature districts. It also adds new language on compactness requirements and sets-up a process to seek to insure compliance with these and other criteria.

The inclusion of this additional criteria and requirements into the California State Constitution could result, if Bartlett v Strickland is upheld by the United States Supreme Court, in challenges under the language in the State Constitution to both African-America and Latino districts that are under 50% of either African-American VAP or Latino Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP).

Third, this initiative contains as part of the criteria the use of nesting. These criteria could weaken the ability of the commissioners to draw majority-minority districts.

Fourth, this initiative contains no provision for allowing a reasonable amount of time during the hearing process for individuals or organizations to present statewide legislative plans to the redistricting commission before the commission releases their own statewide maps.

It is important to note that at the present time there is an increasing number of minorities in the California Legislature and in Congress from California, even though there should be more districts where the Latino community could elect a candidate of its own choice. There is currently significant Latino representation in both the state Assembly and Senate. This initiative could potentially decrease that Latino representation in the California state legislature and congress. This initiative also could potentially decrease the number of California State Assembly, State Senate and Congressional Districts held by African-American Legislators.

It is important to strongly oppose this initiative because we cannot afford to potentially turn the clock back on minority representation in these critical legislature bodies that shape both national and state policies that impact on the daily lives of the residents of California.

This constitutional amendment is opposed by a significant number of civil rights, minority organizations, the California Democratic Party, and the California Democratic Congressional Delegation.  Organizations opposing this constitutional amendment include:
NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF)
Congressional Black Caucus
Congressional Hispanic Caucus
Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus
Legislative Black Caucus
California Latino Legislative Caucus
National Association of Elected and Appointed Latino Officials (NALEO)
Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC)
Asian Law Caucus (ALC)
Chinese for Affirmative Action (CCA)
Coalition of Black Elected Officials and Retirees
American G.I. Forum of California
Los Angeles City Employees Chicano Association
Los Angeles County Hispanic Managers Association
Asian Law Alliance (ALA)
William C. Velasquez Insitute
Los Angeles Chapter of the Mexican American Correctional Association
Asian American Justice Center (AAJC)
Alan Clayton, is LACCEA Director of EEO and a redistricting expert.

Protecting the Vote

October 9, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Voter registration deadlines are just over a week away in many states. Polls open in just over a month. In an election that could well be decided by new voters, voter registration efforts are in overdrive. But signing people up might be the easy part: after that, there’s voting. As the last two elections have shown, just showing up at the polls isn’t a guarantee of a smooth ride to the ballot box.

In 2000 and 2004, all across the country, thousands of voters were removed from the rolls, without their knowledge, in official purges of voter lists. On Election Day in 2004, boxes of registrations remained unprocessed in at least two cities we know about — Cleveland and Toledo, Ohio. On the radio that election night, I received calls from Columbus voters who had stood for hours in line because of a shortage of voting machines in the inner city, even as, in nearby wealthy suburbs, voters were able to cast their votes in a matter of minutes. As one caller put it, “Jim Crow isn’t dead.”

Election protection and voting rights should be central to any conversation about the ‘08 vote. But a lot of tough questions are getting lost in horse-race coverage. And many voters are wondering — again — if their vote will be counted. In contrast to most advanced democracies, the right to vote isn’t conveyed automatically with citizenship or coming of age in the United States. Voters have to prove themselves and there are no end to the challenges, from felon disenfranchisement laws to monolingual ballots and a myriad of ever-changing rules, which differ from election to election and district to district. Come voting day, voters rely on minimally-trained poll-workers overseeing a myriad of voting systems. Disturbing doubts remain about the security of electronic voting and the privately-owned technology many districts rely on to tally votes.

Fed up with waiting for officials or Parties to do the work, this year, as never before, citizens’ groups, and voting rights organizations are taking early action to protect the vote. A few months back, national voting rights groups charged officials in Kansas, Michigan and Louisiana of illegally purging voter lists. Voters whose homes are in foreclosure are also concerned that their status might be used at the precinct to challenge their right to vote. The states with the highest foreclosure rates, Ohio, Michigan, Florida and Colorado, are also swing states where the election could hinge on tiny margins. Meanwhile, in Michigan, the

ACLU has just filed a federal lawsuit against state electoral officials over statewide voter purge programs they claim would “disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Michigan voters” — many of them college students. Thanks to independent reporting and activist organizing, the Department of Veterans Affairs was recently forced to reverse its policy that would have stopped voter registration drives at hundreds of VA hospitals serving injured and homeless vets.

While the media focus on the candidates, voting rights advocates are focusing on the future of our democracy. It’s falling to nonprofit outfits like the Advancement Project to distribute state-specific “know the facts” palm cards to poll workers in many states. And organizers are fanning out. Twenty-three states allow early voting. Ohio has a “golden week” — September 30 to October 6 — in which people can register and vote all in the same day. The organizers recommend voting early. Avoid the lines and the worst of the chaos.

Will citizen activism decide an election? It just might.

Flanders is the host of GRITtv and “Live From Main Street,” a virtual town hall exploring how the issues of voting rights and election security affect every day Americans. For more a full schedule of events, visit www.livefrommainstreet.org.

Villaraigosa Announces $5 Billion Housing Plan for L.A.

October 9, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

A five-year plan to build and preserve 20,000 housing units throughout the city of Los Angeles at a cost of $5 billion was unveiled last week by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Housing officials say the plan represents the first time that the five city departments responsible for housing — Community Redevelopment, Planning, Homeless Services Authority, Housing and the Housing Authority — have come together to create a master plan for the city.

“The focus of this plan is to create more housing choices within every community of Los Angeles,” said Helmi Hisserich, deputy mayor for Housing and Economic Development Policy.

“We want to have a more mixed-income community. There’s a lot of evidence that will tell you that having a mix of incomes in a community is a very good model for a healthy city.”

Of the 20,000 units, 2,200 will be for individuals who are chronically homeless; 8,800 will be reserved for families with an annual income less than $29,000; 3,800 will be for families making between $29,000 and $42,000; 2,600 for families making between $42,000 and $52,000; and 2,600 units for families with an annual income between $52,000 and $90,000.

“This city’s economic success and vitality depend on our ability to plan for a future of sustainability and stability in our housing market,” Villaraigosa said. “This plan lays the building blocks of housing our middle class can afford and takes the first steps toward building housing that works for all Angelenos.”

While new housing has been built throughout Los Angeles, there is an over-concentration on high-end apartments and condominiums, and a severe shortage of housing for low- and moderate-income Angelenos, Hisserich said.

“The focus of the plan is to chart a course for producing housing across the income spectrum,” she said.

The initiative will be financed over five years with $1 billion from existing city resources. The remaining $4 billion will come from low-income housing bonds, tax credit equity, grants and private sector loans.
Enterprise Community Partners, which earlier this year announced a $100 million trust for affordable housing in Los Angeles, has committed $700 million for the initiative.

“Enterprise is pleased to step forward as an early and major partner in this effort to create fit, affordable and sustainable homes for all residents of the city,” said Doris Koo, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners.

The plan also proposes a Sustainable Communities Initiative, which is intended to spur development near Metro rail stations and bus routes. Ten transit-oriented district plans are in the works for stations along the Gold Line Eastside Extension and Expo Line, and the city plans to fund another 10.

Over the next five years, the city also plans to replace the Jordan Downs, Nickerson Gardens and Ramona Gardens public housing complexes in South and East Los Angeles.

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