February 14, 2013

Los Angeles City Clerk June Lagmay reminds eligible residents they must register to vote by Tuesday, February 19 in order to be able to vote in the March 5 city of Los Angeles primary nominating election.  To be eligible a potential voter must be a citizen of the United States and 18 years old by election day.  Registered voters who have moved or changed their names since the last election must re-register to vote.

Voter registration is handled by the Office of the California Secretary of State.  You can register to vote from the following sources:

• Contact the Office of the California Secretary of State.  Complete your registration online at https://rtv.sos.ca.gov/elections/register-to-vote/, or download the form at http://www.eac.gov/assets/1/Documents/Federal%20Voter%20Registration_1209_en9242012.pdf  and complete and return by mail

• Contact the Office of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s (RR/CC) by visiting their website at www.lavote.net or email them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  You can also call them at toll-free at 800-481-VOTE or direct at 562-466-1310, or register in person at the RR/CC Office at 12400 Imperial Highway, Norwalk, CA 90650

• Voter registration forms may also be available at the public counter of most Los Angeles City and County buildings, libraries, fire stations, post offices, and Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices

The Official Sample Ballot for the March 5 city of Los Angeles primary nominating election (available in English and the eight Federally-mandated languages of Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese) is available on the City Clerk’s Elections website at http://clerk.lacity.org/Elections/ under the “Find Your Polling Place and Sample Ballot” link.   Copies of the official sample ballot and voter information pamphlet are also available by contacting the Office of the City Clerk - Election Division by March 1.

For further information or assistance, call the Election Division at (213) 978-0444 or toll-free at (888) 873-1000 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The Office of the City Clerk - Election Division administers elections for the city of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and the Los Angeles Community College District.  The city’s primary nominating election will be held March 5 and the general municipal election will be held May 21.  More information can be found on the Election Division’s website at http://clerk.lacity.org/Elections/

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February 14, 2013

City News Service


More than 180 applicants have been awarded grants for down payments on homes in a home-buying program started about a year ago as part of a settlement between banks and the Department of Justice, it was announced recently. Grant funding totaling $4.3 million remains available. Grants of $30,000 each through the NeighborhoodLIFT SM program are available to Los Angeles County residents who earn no more than 120 percent of the median income for the area, plan to stay in their home for five years, and participate in a buyer education program with a HUD-approved a counselor.

The nonprofit NeighborWorks America worked with the city of Los Angeles and Wells Fargo to create the program and have given out $5.4 million to aspiring home owners, as well as another $1.5 million to after school, gang prevention, community health and economic development programs in the city.

“Thanks to Wells Fargo’s generous grant donations and community programs, Angelenos from San Fernando to San Pedro can own their own piece of the city and help to revitalize their neighborhoods,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.

“While no single program will ever reverse the effects of the country’s foreclosure crisis, we’re proud to continue doing our part to support the recovery by helping promising home-buyers achieve ownership success in a sustainable and responsible way,” said John Sotoodeh, Wells Fargo’s Los Angeles region president.

The home-buyer assistance program in Los Angeles region was first rolled out in 2012 and will expand to the Inland Empire this year. Wells Fargo has funded $89.9 million in down payments and $11.8 million toward counseling, education and program support in 20 different locations across the country hardest hit by the 2008 housing crash and subsequent financial crisis.

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February 07, 2013

The M.W. Illustrious Scottish Knights Grand Supreme Council under the leadership of M.W. Grandmaster Hon. David Henry 33rd (giving honor to his M.W. Grand Master Hon. Van A. Hibler 33rd) presented the Della Smith Queen Sheba Legacy Award to Wilma Smith Kiel. Grand High Priest Brandon Kiel 33rd, Deputy Grandmaster Kevin Briley 33rd, and Illustrious Assemblyman Mike Davis (ret.) 33rd, were also in attendance to present this award. 

Wilma Kiel has served as Executive Director at the nationally accredited HIC preschool for over 35 years in South Los Angeles. During her tenure Wilma Kiel co- founded the South Central Training and Research Consortium in 1989.  An organization designed to provide early childhood personnel with research based training to promote innovative curriculums and enhance the structural rigidity of programs to ensure longevity.

The M.W. Illustrious Scottish Knights Grand Supreme Council understands their obligation to building a better society. Supporting early childhood education is just as important as ensuring that a temple is built on a solid foundation. The Grand Supreme Council will continue to recognize those individuals who are making a difference in their community and hold elected officials and ministers accountable for the communities that they represent.

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February 14, 2013

By Sam Hananel Associated Press


President Barack Obama's call to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour and boost it annually to keep pace with inflation is already getting a trial run. Ten states make similar cost-of-living adjustments, including Washington state, where workers earn at least $9.19 an hour, the highest minimum in the country.

In all, 19 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages set above the federal rate of $7.25, a disparity Obama highlighted in his State of the Union address as he seeks to help the nation's lowest paid workers.

Obama's proposal is renewing the age-old debate between advocates who claim boosting the minimum wage pumps more money into the economy, helping to create new jobs, and business groups that complain it would unfairly burden employers and curb demand for new workers.

And it faces certain hurdles in Congress, as top Republicans including House Speaker John Boehner wasted little time dismissing the proposal.

More than 15 million workers earn the national minimum wage, making about $15,080 a year. That's just below the federal poverty threshold of $15,130 for a family of two.

Selling his plan to a crowd in Asheville, N.C., recently, Obama said it's time to increase the minimum wage "because if you work full-time, you shouldn't be in poverty."

Advocates say a minimum wage increase can lead to even broader economic benefits.

"These are workers who are most likely to spend virtually everything they earn, so it just pumps money back into local economies," said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group.

But William Dunkelberg, chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business, said the increase would hit businesses hard and only hurt low-wage workers by reducing demand for their services.

"The higher the price of anything, the less that will be taken, and this includes labor," Dunkelberg said. "Raising the cost of labor raises the incentive for employers to find ways to use less labor."

Economists have long disputed the broader impact of setting a minimum wage. A major 1994 study by labor economists David Card and Alan Krueger found that a rise in New Jersey's minimum wage did not reduce employment levels in the fast food industry. Krueger now is chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Yet that study has come under fire from other economists, who argue that comparing different states over time shows that raising the minimum wage hurts job growth.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, said that a higher minimum wage would boost incomes for some poorer workers. But it would also discourage employers from hiring more of them.

"So on net, I am not sure it helps," he said.

The government first set a minimum wage during the Great Depression in 1938. It has been raised 22 times since then — the last increase went into effect in 2009 — but the value has eroded over time due to inflation.

Obama's latest plan would raise the hourly minimum to $9 by 2015 and as well as increase the minimum wage for tipped workers, which has not gone up for more than two decades.

As for states that have already set minimum wages above the federal rate, they range from $7.35 in Missouri to the high of $9.19 in Washington. In 10 of those states, the minimum wage is automatically adjusted every year to keep pace with the rising cost of living — Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

Women represent nearly two thirds of minimum wage workers, while black and Hispanic workers represent a higher share of the minimum wage work force than whites, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

The last federal minimum wage increase was signed into law by President George W. Bush, when it increased from $5.15 to $7.25 in a three-step process between 2007 and 2009.

The last recession began in the middle of that process and took an especially heavy toll on middle-wage positions, which accounted for 60 percent of jobs lost in the crushing downturn. Most of the job growth since the 2010 recovery has been in low-wage jobs. Owens, for one, contends: "There's no compelling case to be made that raising the minimum wage triggered job losses."

Doug Hall, director of the liberal Economic Policy Institute, estimates that raising the minimum wage to $9 would pump $21 billion into the economy and lead to the creation of 120,000 jobs.

But Randel Johnson, vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for labor issues, said the increase would come "on the backs of employers" who would hire fewer people and cut overtime.

"You don't put new burdens on employers when they are trying to recover in a tough recessionary time," he said.

Johnson also warned against tying wage increases to inflation.

"Employer profits are not magically indexed somehow to always go up," Johnson said. "Congress needs to look at the validity of raising the minimum wage in the context of the economic times in which it's being proposed."

That concern is expected to drive Republican opposition in Congress. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who delivered the GOP response to Obama's State of the Union address, said Wednesday that boosting the minimum wage is the wrong way to help workers increase wages.

"I don't think a minimum wage works," Rubio said on "CBS This Morning. "I want people to make more than $9 dollars an hour. The problem is, you can't mandate that."

Boehner, the House speaker, told reporters Wednesday: "When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it."

The White House is pointing to companies such as Costco, Wal-Mart and Stride Rite that have supported past increases in the minimum wage, saying high wages help build a strong work force and lower turnover helps improve profitability over the long run.

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January 31, 2013

On Tuesday at its meeting, the Board of Supervisors authorized a second $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the outstanding suspect responsible for the July 4, 2012 shooting that took the life of 14-year-old Unique Russell and injured 12-year-old Rekell Reeves and 25-year-old Freddy Pickett. 

The shooting occurred in front of a home on the 1300 block of West 97th Street located in the unincorporated area of West Athens. Unique, Rekell, and Pickett were watching fireworks with friends and neighbors when witnesses saw two suspects open fire into the crowd.

Unique was transported to Harbor–UCLA Medical Center where she died from her injuries. Rekell and Pickett suffered non- life threatening gunshot wounds to their legs and were subsequently released.

On the heels of the shooting, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas authorized a $10,000 reward motion that was unanimously approved by the Board in October. Last month, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s arrested Michael Staton, a 19-year- old Compton resident and alleged gang member, in connection with the shooting of Unique.

According to Los Angeles County homicide detectives, Ridley-Thomas’ $10,000 reward motion was instrumental in obtaining information from the public.

In an effort to arrest the second suspect, Ridley-Thomas authored a motion to increase the current reward by an additional $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the outstanding suspect. As a result of the Board’s approval, the reward now stands at $10,000 for the conviction of each suspect for a total reward amount of $20,000.

“Thanks to members of the community who spoke up, one suspect is behind bars and off the streets,” said Ridley-Thomas. “We are calling on the community to once again come forward to help bring justice to the friends and family members who have lost their loved one in this senseless crime.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact Sergeant Perry or Detective Sloan of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau (323) 890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

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