Friday, March 27, 2009

Promise to Work on Behalf of All Angelenos on Metro Board

Yesterday morning Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed me and Rita Robinson to the Metro Board of Directors, replacing outgoing directors, City Councilmember Bernard Parks and David Fleming. I want to thank my colleague Bernard Parks for doing such an outstanding job, and I know that Ms. Robinson is going to bring excellent hands-on transportation experience to the board. As for myself, I believe that any transportation plans we implement as a government body must be linked to smart growth and multimodal approaches that really take into consideration our region’s “big picture.” As a kid, growing up in a low-income family in Boyle Heights, I, along with family members depended on the area's public transportation. I have logged many miles and countless hours on the City’s buses and I promise to always keep in mind how our actions as a Board affect other people, kids, seniors, families, those who are in the same situation I once was – people who have no choice but to use our public transportation. So it’s very important to me that you know, the residents of Los Angeles -- that I will work on your behalf -- whether you live in the Valley, South L.A. or East L.A., I will do my absolute best to make sure that your interests are protected.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Riding on the Metro

Decided to take the bus to work today. It’s pretty convenient. I live very close to the 68 bus line, which passes through Cesar Chavez Avenue near my home in Boyle Heights. With stops just 10 minutes apart, the bus dropped me off across the street in front of City Hall on Spring Street in good time. I encourage all my constituents to take public transit whenever they can.

Celebrating Equal Rights Victory with Filipino Veterans and their Families

I gathered Saturday with friends in Eagle Rock to celebrate the tremendous victory our WWII Filipino veterans recently won to receive restitution for veterans’ benefits stripped away by Congress back in 1946 under the Rescission Act. With the recently signed stimulus bill, President Obama set aside $198 million for the more than 15,000 Filipino veterans living in the U.S. and abroad. Under the plan, Filipino veterans who are U.S. citizens will receive a one-time payment of $15,000, while non-U.S. citizens will receive $9,000. The President signed the legislation almost 63 years to the day of the Rescission Act and I congratulated our veterans on Saturday for displaying the same tenacity and courage they exhibited on the battlefield in this fight for equal rights. They never, ever gave up and they never lost hope. While it’s sad that so few of the more than 260,000 Filipinos who were called to arms by President Roosevelt are still alive to receive the payments, it is extremely important for the legacy of these veterans, who at the end of the day, just wanted to be treated like all other U.S. veterans. And veterans will tell you that on the battlefield there are no racial distinctions and there are no social or economic differences: there are just soldiers. So, this was a big victory for all U.S. veterans. Congratulations to all and God Bless America.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Obama Holds Court in Miguel Contreras High School Gym

I was fortunate enough to see President Obama speak for the second time in a week and I was struck by the historic nature of his appearance this afternoon at Miguel Contreras Learning Complex. Today we had an African-American President speaking at a high school named after a great Latino leader. Amazing. We truly have come a long way as a nation. And what a speaker the President is. He combines an everyman ease with a keen intellect and sharp sense of humor. Today, he talked about a number of issues and deflected criticism that his administration is focusing on too many problems at once by saying something to the effect of You don’t get to put off dealing with multiple problems at home (i.e. mortgage, job loss), why should I? He followed that up by saying: “I did not run for president to pass on problems for the next generation but to solve problems for the next generation and the next president.” He was very honest in his assessment of the challenges we’re facing regarding national debt, healthcare and education and how we’re going to have to make some real sacrifices if we’re going to come out of this on top.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Drawing Inspiration in D.C. from President Obama

During my trip to Washington D.C. this week to lobby for stimulus funds and jobs in education, transportation and public safety for Angelenos, I was fortunate enough to hear Barack Obama make his first major speech about education since becoming president. I had a great view as the President addressed the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and I was inspired as President Obama asked all Americans, Democrats and Republicans, to put our differences aside so we can give our children the kind of education they need to compete in the 21st Century. The president was particularly focused on doing all we can do to make improvements in math and science, a concept I’ve been lobbying for since my days on the Board of Education. The soon to open Mendez Learning Center in Boyle Heights will have a focus on math, science, technology and engineering. I’m hoping that those of us working on preparing that school to open will draw inspiration from the President’s words and do all that we can to help those incoming students excel at the highest level possible.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Councilmember Huizar Congratulates Voters for Passing Measure A

I want to take a moment to thank Los Angeles voters for passing Measure A, which will create an Independent Assessor position in the Los Angeles Fire Department. This position, which was first proposed by me and Councilmember Jack Weiss, will be appointed by the Fire Commission, which is civilian-run, and will help ensure that progress made in recent months in reforming the department will be consistent and sustained for years to come. By overseeing the department’s response to misconduct complaints, the Independent Assessor position will help reduce costly discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits and put the department's focus where it belongs: on the outstanding and brave work of the men and women of the LAFD. I also want to thank the department and the fire fighters' union for showing real leadership and courage and getting behind Measure A. Their support was key in getting it done. Thanks to all.