Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Immigrant Communities Poorly Prepared for Disaster

I recently hosted a press conference to get the word about disaster preparedness to our immigrant communities with limited English-speaking abilities. According to a study by the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, immigrant non-English speaking communities are more vulnerable during a disaster because they are not prepared as well as English-speaking communities and because of the limited availability of resources in their native languages. Currently, the City offers classes in emergency preparedness for community groups and organizations. Classes are free and translation can be done in some cases by city agencies or by the host group. If you’re interested, call the City’s Emergency Management Department at (213) 978-2222 or the Los Angeles Fire Department’s CERT program at (818) 756-9674.

Friday, September 26, 2008

All Aboard for a Downtown Tour on a Big Red Bus

A big thanks to my colleague Tom LaBonge who convinced his friends at Starline Tours to bring their double-decker tourist bus operation to downtown. Things are definitely changing downtown. The tour begins at El Pueblo Historical Monument (Olvera Street) and stops at the Civic Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the historic theaters along Broadway, Staples Center and L.A. LIVE, to name a few locations. Got to http://www.starlinetours.com/ for more information.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

College IS Possible

As a student going to college at UC Berkeley, the money I received from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund came exactly when I needed it and it helped me continue my education. So it was a complete joy to attend HSF’s “College is Possible” seminar at Roosevelt High School. Organizers said that 600 young people and their families signed up for the free event. I told the students and their parents that growing up in Boyle Heights, I attended some of the same schools as they did and that higher education changed my life. I have no doubt with 600 people participating, that there were a lot of kids in that auditorium who are about to embark on a life-changing journey of their own. For information on the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, visit www.hsf.net.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

From the Ashes of Struggle, a Seed of Green Growth for Crown Coach Site

I joined the City's Community Redevelopment Agency CEO Cecelia Estolano and Mayor Villaraigosa at the old Crown Coach site in CD14, which we’re hoping to turn into a hub of cutting-edge green technology. Located on the City’s eastside and sitting on 20 acres of land near 15th Street and Washington Boulevard, the site was once ground zero in an environmental justice battle between the Mothers of East Los Angeles and the state of California, which wanted to build a prison there. I’m going to work hard to make sure that besides bringing in businesses that offer clean and green technologies using green manufacturing, the proposed Los Angeles Cleantech Manufacturing Center must create jobs that can be filled locally. The Mothers of East Los Angeles fought too hard and too long for that not to happen.

Welcome to the Neighborhood New Hollenbeck Employees

I had the pleasure of attending Hollenbeck Police Department’s New Employee Orientation. I think Capt. Chow and the LAPD officers at Hollenbeck are doing a fantastic job. The new hires include sergeants, lieutenants, detectives and other officers, working various “tables” in the division, such as Gangs and Vice. Part of the orientation included a tour of Boyle Heights, so the officers could get acclimated to the area and get to meet community members. I met up with the group for lunch at the Boyle Heights Technology Center, where I introduced them to my staff. Welcome to Hollenbeck, officers!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Celebrating 80 Years of Community Spirit at Talpa Church

As a kid I attended mass with my family at Our Lady of the Rosary of Talpa Church. I made my First Holy Communion and my Confirmation at Talpa. I have many fond memories of my time there, and it was an honor to return Sunday to congratulate Talpa on its 80th Anniversary. The reason Talpa has thrived in the Boyle Heights community for so long is because they are dedicated to serving the entire community. From the monthly cleanups, to the many important education campaigns they spearhead, to advocating for the housing rights of neighbors and friends, Talpa has served as a model for community involvement. Grácias Father Margarito and Father Silviano and the entire La Talpa church for 80 wonderful years!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Celebration More Than a Chance to Shout: 'El Grito' Evokes Pride in Culture and Freedom

This year, I participated in two events to commemorate “El Grito” (The Shout), the celebration of Mexican Independence Day. On Saturday, I was at El Pueblo where Telemundo was broadcasting live and I was able to speak to a national audience about Los Angeles’ strong Mexican roots and history. On Monday, my wife, mother and I attended the El Grito ceremonies at City Hall. Happy Independence Day Mexico!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Jazzing it Up in Monterey Hills

For the hundreds of people who attended the 14th Annual Monterey Hills Jazz festival at Budd Wiener Park Saturday, listening to acts like Lori Andrews and Luis Conte proved to be a perfect way to spend the last weekend of the summer. The best part for me was seeing the community having a great time enjoying excellent food and music.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Celebrating 50 Years of Quality Education at Salesian High School

I’ve said many times over, attending Salesian High School was a life-changing experience for me. I would not be where I am today without the guidance and education I received at Salesian. Yesterday, I attended the school’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. Alumni were honored to return to the school that gave us so much and say, “Happy 50th Birthday Salesian.” Go Mustangs! (Once a Mustang, always a Mustang!)

Friday, September 12, 2008

An Afternoon with Nobel Peace Prize Winner Rigoberta Menchu

Yesterday was truly an inspiring day for me. One, I got to meet legendary Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, and two, I got to see the work of 100 students from Roosevelt High School and Hollenbeck Middle School who painted a “Peace in Action” mural as part of a service project to promote peace, unity and social justice. Menchu, who has been recognized throughout the world for her work on behalf of the indigenous people of Guatemala, was a delight, full of humility and keen insight. We were there to dedicate the mural, which was done through the Cesar Chavez Foundation as part of the LA Peace Collaborative, a larger, city wide project. The mural done by the young people was incredible, and it must have been truly inspiring for them to hear firsthand from Menchu, whose family suffered greatly due to violence, remain so committed to peace. It certainly inspired me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

An Important Step in Getting Families Nutritional Info They Need

Today my colleagues on the City Council voted unanimously to support my proposal to direct the City Attorney’s office to draft an ordinance requiring some restaurants post nutritional information on their food items in their menus and on menu boards. The proposed ordinance is similar to one drafted by Los Angeles County and would require restaurants with 15 or more locations throughout the state post such information. With obesity, diabetes and other related health problems on the rise throughout our nation, particularly with our children, I felt strongly that something needed to be done. Studies have shown that when given nutritional information such as calories and fat content at restaurants, people will eat less. This ordinance will give families the information they need to make healthy choices when eating out. A State Senate Bill addressing this issue is currently sitting on Governor Schwarzenegger’s desk. My colleagues and I on the City Council urge him to sign that bill.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Feliz Cumpleaños Los Angeles: 227 Years of History

I joined about 300 walkers Monday morning to celebrate the 227th birthday of Los Angeles. The annual event started off at dawn at the San Gabriel Mission in the City of San Gabriel and it ended at the plaza at El Pueblo Historical Monument in downtown. The annual event commemorates our city’s 44 forefathers’ journey on Sept. 4, 1781, from the mission to the Los Angeles River where Los Angeles was founded. I walked the whole nine miles (I’m still sore) and was impressed by the large turnout. The walkers included young and old. We were all inspired to finish I’m sure by our ancestors, who had a decidedly more difficult journey. We finished the walk in less than three hours and were reminded all the while that just like it was for our ancestors, Los Angeles is a place where dreams do come true.

New Dash Line for Central City East

Councilmember Jan Perry and I, along with LADOT’s John Fisher, announced the opening of a much-needed DASH Line in the Central City East area of Downtown. The new Central City East DASH route will help empower Skid Row residents, many of whom are transit-dependent. In a very real sense, it provides meaningful, cost-effective transit in an underserved area. In a symbolic sense, it says that Central City East is truly part of Downtown LA. The new 25-cent service will run 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., weekdays. For more information on running time, go to: http://www.ladottransit.com/dash/.