Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Night Lights Program Kicks Off

I was beyond ecstatic to attend the kickoff this morning at Glassell Park for the City’s “Summer Night Lights” program, which is focused on giving kids in the City’s eight gang-reduction zones an opportunity to participate in sports and cultural activities after dark. As we all know, the summertime can be a pretty vulnerable time for our children, particularly at night. This 10-week program is going to give kids a viable option to go to a park and have great, supervised, and (most importantly) safe fun. Both Monsignor Ramon Garcia Park and Ramona Gardens Recreation Centers in Boyle Heights will be hosting this program. The kickoff news conference included 80 kids with the “Youth Squad,” who will be employed during the program, Mayor Villaraigosa, Councilmembers Eric Garcetti and Ed Reyes, as well as LAPD Chief William Bratton. Also present were Jeff Carr, the mayor’s gang reduction and youth development coordinator, CBS 2’s Jim Hill, and even USC coach Pete Carroll! For more information about the program, please visit or call:

Monsignor Ramon Garcia Recreation Center
1016 S. Fresno St.
Los Angeles CA 90036
(323) 265 4755

Ramona Gardens Recreation Center
2830 Lancaster Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90033
(213) 847-2961

Friday, June 27, 2008

The City is Fighting the Avenues Street Gang

As you may know, multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, and Glendale Police Department, launched a collaborative effort to uproot the Avenues street gang. The operation has yielded positive results, including the arrest of at least 28 gang members. Please be assured that law enforcement is working around the clock and will continue stepped-up patrols in the coming weeks to ensure your safety in your homes, schools, and neighborhoods. Public safety, especially for children and youth, is my No. 1 priority.

I strongly believe, however, that we must fight gang violence with a two-pronged approach. In addition to law enforcement, we must provide positive, meaningful alternatives for our children to prevent them from joining gangs, or intervene to help those already involved turn their life around. But the fight for peace must start in the community. I hope that you and your neighbors will join me on at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 16, 2008 for a March for Peace in the Northeast. The march will begin at the intersection of York Blvd. and Figueroa St. in Highland Park. Please feel free to contact my Northeast District Office at (323) 254-5295 with any questions you may have.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Thank You to Mark Overstreet for Educating LAUSD’s Students

It is always sad to see a good teacher retire. But I also know that means hundreds, if not thousands, of students have been enriched by a caring and committed educator. That’s what I celebrated last night at the retirement dinner for Mark Overstreet, who worked for the past 30 years in many capacities with the Los Angeles Unified School District. Whether working as a school counselor, psychologist for the GATE program or co-founder—along with his wife Rosa—of the Eastside Association for Gifted Children (EAGC), Mark has conveyed to students that through hard work and dedication, success is not only possible, but expected. LAUSD and its students will miss him, but I’m glad he had the opportunity to shape so many young lives. He was a great teacher in Council District 14 and continues to be a leader in the community of University Hills.

Congratulations to Adelante Award Winners

The top two achieving students in fifth through 12th grade at each public and private school in Council District 14 were honored Saturday at a luncheon at the Cathedral of our Lady of Angels. I founded the Adelante Awards five years ago as president of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. Awardees were nominated by their school administrators and teachers, and they were selected for academic achievement and leadership in the classroom and their communities. Adelante is Spanish for “onward,” and I thought it was a fitting phrase for what I hope this award will do: encourage young people to continue to pursue their education and their goals so they can make a difference in their communities. Nearly 300 teachers, principals and parents were there to honor their students. To the award winners, I say ADELANTE!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Microsoft Vida Digital Latina Donates Bilingual Software

On Saturday I welcomed Microsoft Vida Digital Latina to the Boyle Height Technology Center. At the Tech Center, anyone can come in and explore technology through state-of-the-art equipment. You can learn Web design, music programming, and get help with homework and job placement. Now thanks to Microsoft, you can do all that in English and Spanish. Microsoft has generously donated 27 Microsoft Office Language Packs and 27 Microsoft Offices Licenses to the Tech Center through its Microsoft Digital Latina Campaign. Its generous contribution has made the Boyle Heights Technology Center the only facility in Boyle Heights to have bilingual computers.

Having bilingual computers will give Spanish speaking community members an opportunity to learn computers and be computer savvy, and also provide bonding opportunities for many families.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Torch Run for the Special Olympics

I joined about 20 Hollenbeck Division Police Officers yesterday morning on a run through Boyle Heights for the 2008 Special Olympics Torch Run. The run was a fundraiser leading up to this weekend’s Southern California Special Olympics to be held at California State University, Long Beach. The Hollenbeck officers were led by division Capt. Blake Chow and Capt. Tina Nieto. I was proud to carry the torch through the streets and that members of the community came out to support us by waiving or honking from their cars. The Special Olympics is a terrific event that gives thousands of children and adults a chance to celebrate their success and reach their full potential. It also demonstrates once again how much our LAPD officers care about the community.

Another thing it demonstrated was that I need to get more exercise. My legs are a little sore today. But it was worth it. The Hollenbeck Division officers helped raise hundreds of dollars for the Special Olympics. In all, more than 3,500 officers carried the Special Olympic Torch for over 1,500 miles.

White Memorial Medical Center’s Cleft Palate Center Grand Opening

It was truly gratifying to be a part of the grand opening yesterday for White Memorial Medical Center’s new Cleft Palate Center. As a lifelong resident of the area, I understand firsthand the need for immediate access and affordable health care in our communities. With the opening of the Cleft Palate Center, hundreds of children and others born with a completely treatable condition will be given a chance at a healthy life. We also celebrated the hard work and effort of those that have contributed to the opening of the center. I applaud all those who have contributed, including the County of Los Angeles; the City of Los Angeles; Eva Vargas and MV Medical Management; Dionicio Morales and The Mexican American Opportunity Foundation; The Foundation Auxiliary; and the center’s newest partner, Shakey’s. Through their generous support, the center will help display its most precious sight: a child’s smile. And that smile, in all its beauty and wonder, will tell the story of the center’s success.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Handicap-Accessible Playground Dedicated in Boyle Heights

Today, I helped create playground access for children and parents with disabilities by dedicating a new universal, handicap-accessible playground at Hazard Park in Boyle Heights. This playground is more than just a mass of swings and bars. It’s a learning tool. This is a place where all children—able-bodied and those with disabilities—will play together and learn the most vital lesson of all: that deep down we’re all the same. The design also will allow parents with disabilities, such as wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, to be able to play with their able-bodied children.

Welcome New Northeast Division Captain Murphy

Last night I hosted a reception at the Los Angeles Police Museum in Highland Park for new LAPD Northeast Division Captain William “Bill” Murphy. In the past few weeks that Captain Murphy has been with Northeast Division, he has demonstrated a great level of accessibility and direct communication with the community. This great quality shows us that he genuinely wants to hear from the community about how we can all work together to find positive solutions to improve public safety in northeast Los Angeles.

I invite you join Captain Murphy and me on July 10 at a special Highland Park Neighborhood Watch meeting at the Police Museum to discuss public safety issues of the community.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Boyle Heights Youth Opportunity Movement Center Grand Reopening

Today I attended the grand reopening of the Boyle Heights Youth Opportunity Movement Center along with local youth and their family.

The new center now provides access to a computer laboratory, library, college preparatory center, game room, and entertainment center. These new amenities are a great resource to the local youth, and I hope that you will spread the word among your friends to visit the center and to participate in their activities.

In addition, this year Boyle Heights will be home to a new summer program: the “Summer Night Lights” at Ramon Garcia Park and the Ramona Gardens Rec Center. We all know that during the summer time, many young people are out of school, and sometimes have nothing to do. So this summer, we are providing a space during nighttime hours so kids can be kids! For 10 weeks, Ramon Garcia Park and the Ramona Gardens Rec Center will be open from 4 p.m. to 12 midnight, Wednesday through Saturday, to provide sports programs, cultural workshops and SAFE SPACE! Summer Night Lights programs will begin each night at 7 p.m.