Thursday, January 22, 2009

Congratulations in Order to Barack Obama and the American People

I just want to express my congratulations to Barack Obama, who was sworn in Tuesday as the 44th President of the United States of America . I had the good fortune, along with my wife, Richelle, and my three children, to attend a live broadcast held at L.A. LIVE’s Nokia Plaza. We joined Councilmembers Jan Perry and Tom Labonge, along with an estimated 5,000 people, who witnessed the swearing in on a huge screen overlooking a stage in the plaza. I have to say, as an American, I was deeply moved by the proceedings: from Aretha Franklin’s beautiful version of “My Country Tis of Thee” to President Obama’s stirring speech , calling on us Americans to “pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of remaking America.” And while I want to again congratulate President Obama and his family on this momentous occasion, I also want to congratulate the American people for making history and showing the world that our ideals and our values are not just words spoken but actions taken. As Americans, we took a very big step Tuesday. And the best part is, we took it together. God Bless America.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Salesian High School Students Attend Inauguration

Steven Almazan and Alex Ibarra, two outstanding students from my alma mater, Salesian High School in Boyle Heights, were fortunate enough to secure two tickets to the Presidential Inauguration, thanks to Congresswoman Lucille Roybal Allard. In fact, they received two more tickets from the congresswoman so their chaperones, Moises Delgado (Salesian admissions director and Soccer coach) and Sergio Almazan (Steven’s brother and Salesian Alumnus), could also attend. This past weekend, I met Steven and Alex before they left for their flight and I let them know how proud we are of them, knowing that they're going to be part of history. These two young men were selected in part, for their outstanding academic standing. Steven is currently ranked No. 1 academically among Salesian seniors, and Alex, a freshman, is also ranked at the top of his class and was this year’s lone freshman selected to receive a full, four-year scholarship. Word has it that when they get back from Washington D.C., Steven is going to write some articles for the school publication as well as for some local papers, so keep a look out for that. Congratulations Mustangs! See Fox News 11 video clip here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

YMCA’s 38th Annual Martin Luther King Brotherhood Breakfast

I attended this great tradition held this year at the Omni Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. I was fortunate enough to be honored as this year’s recipient of the Brotherhood Award, and I have to say I was deeply touched to be singled out in this fashion. For me, as someone who was born in Mexico and raised in Boyle Heights, I know for a fact that I’ve benefited personally from the work and laws Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought and died for. And I would not be a Councilmember today were it not for the civil rights movement. I was able to grow up in a society that was profoundly shaped by Dr. King, one that has been built on the pillars of justice, equality and opportunity. It was not lost on me or anyone else at this year’s breakfast (or throughout the country for that matter), that the day after we celebrated Dr. King’s legacy, Barack Obama, the first African American president in our country’s history, would take office. I want to thank the YMCA for this great honor and I vow to continue to do all I can to make sure young people of all races and from all walks of life, have the opportunities that they deserve to have. It’s in all our best interests that all children realize their full potential and pursue the dream Dr. King spoke so eloquently about.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thanks to Outgoing Glassell Park Improvement Association Board, Congrats to New Board

The Glassell Park Improvement Association Board has been in existence some 40 years, and last week I joined Council President Eric Garcetti, as we thanked the 2008 Board and swore in the new one. The GPIA has done a lot to improve the neighborhood of Glassell Park and it has stood the test of time. So a big thank you to our outgoing members and good luck to our 2009 board, which includes President James Kiehl, Vice President Scott Piotrowski, Treasurer Joan Potter, Secretary Magarita Darett-Quiroz, and Board members, Alonso Calderon, Marshall Blanchard, John Geary, Brian Frobisher and Helene Schpak. Thank you everyone for all you do to keep Glassell Park beautiful!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Grifols Breaks Ground on New Facility that Will Save Lives and Create Jobs

I was very pleased to join Mayor Villaraigosa, CRA Chief Executive Officer Cecilia Estolano, Cal State L.A. President James Rosser and a host of others for the groundbreaking for Grifols new facility in University Hills. Grifols makes immune deficiency medicines and conducts related research to help people living with HIV and other conditions. Marcia Boyle, founder and president of the Immune Deficiency Foundation, spoke about how the medicine that Grifols produces has allowed her son, who was born with an immune deficiency disorder, to live a completely normal life. I commended Grifols for being a good Community Partner and teaming with some of our local colleges to train students in biomed professions. Four Cal State L.A. graduates who now work at Grifols attended Tuesday’s press conference. Grifol’s new 92,000-square-foot addition will bring 300 new jobs and about $100 million in investment, adding on to the company’s roughly $600 million commitment, since opening their 26-acre site in El Sereno in 2003 where they currently employ about 600 people. In these tough economic times, the good-paying jobs that they’re creating will be a real Godsend to our local economy, as well as their future employees. And the fact that Grifol’s medical services enable people with life-threatening conditions throughout the world to live longer, more fulfilling lives, speaks to the greater humanitarian good that they are doing. The new facility is expected to open by early 2013.

$50,000 Reward Offered in Boyle Heights Hit-and-Run Homicide

We held a press conference recently along with LAPD to announce that the City Council approved a $50,000 reward at my request for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the hit-and-run death of Francisco Pedraza. The 70-year-old man was struck and killed while crossing the street on Olympic Boulevard and Evergreen Avenue in Boyle Heights. He was selling jewelry from a small stand next to a lunch truck at about 11:15 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 24, 2008 when he crossed the street and was struck by a white vehicle. I met his wife Carmen who was quite distraught but wanted to come out and ask for the public’s help in solving this case. Her husband was originally from Mexico City and had been living in the United States for more than 20 years. He was a hard-working man doing his best to provide for his family when he was killed. If you have any information, no matter how inconsequential you might think it is, it could lead to the break in this case that police are looking for. Please call Central Traffic Detectives at (213) 972-2445, or call LAPD’s 24 hour hotline, 1-(877) 527-3247.