July 31, 2014
City News Service
A pair of City Council members introduced a motion July 30 calling for a report from the Department of Water and Power on the water main break that flooded streets and inundated portions of the UCLA campus. The motion by Council President Herb Wesson and Councilman Paul Koretz, whose district includes the Westwood area, instructs the DWP to report on the status and cause of July 29th’s rupture and the water main's operational history and any prior physical integrity issues. It also calls for a report on the status of DWP's water infrastructure program and whether the ruptured main had been scheduled for repair or upgrade; steps that can be taken to reduce any damage or impact on the public and surrounding property, such as technology that can give advance warning of ruptures; and a report on the utility's long-term efforts to replace aging water system components and improve system reliability, including exploring a faster replacement schedule.
The motion will likely be heard later this week in the Energy and Environment Committee, chaired by Councilman Felipe Fuentes, Wesson said. Wesson and other city leaders visited the site of the ruptured water main Wednesday afternoon to assess the extent of the damage, consider the next steps and discuss efforts to replace the city's aging water-delivery infrastructure.
Wesson, who is acting mayor while Eric Garcetti is on vacation, said he will join fellow council members and DWP General Manager Marcie Edwards to inspect the sinkhole and damaged pipe. They also hope to meet with UCLA officials, he said. Wesson said during the visit, he plans to learn everything he can about the main break. He noted that the pipes are graded A-F based on their condition, and the one that broke may have been in the ``C or D category.''
Even though the images of water gushing out of a hole in Sunset Boulevard were dramatic, ``we can't react to the way that it looked,'' he said.
The city will work to ``secure the situation right now and make sure the plan we have moving forward makes sense.'' There also needs to be a ``conversation'' about how to ``fast-track'' repairs for this latest break and other water infrastructure improvements, he said.
July 31, 2014
LAWT News Service
President Obama’s recent town hall with 500 of Africa’s most promising young leaders provided an inspiring window into what the future holds for Africa, and the world.
The 500 participants in the Washington Fellowship program were selected from nearly 50,000 applicants from across Africa, as part of the president’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). YALI was launched by President Obama in 2010, as part of a long-term investment in the next generation of African leaders. It aims to sharpen their skills, to improve their networks, and to strengthen partnerships between the United States and Africa for years to come.
The president announced during the town hall that the Washington Fellowship was being renamed as the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, in honor of the former South African President, Nelson Mandela. Mandela Washington Fellows represent the best and brightest from communities across Africa, and fields ranging from education, medicine, law, business, and beyond. These are the young leaders whose skills, passion, and visions for the future, will help shape the fate of their countries and the world. It is in everyone’s best interest to help them prepare with the tools they need to build a healthier, more secure, more prosperous, and more peaceful Africa, which is why President Obama launched YALI in the first place.
“Even as we deal with crises and challenges in other parts of the world that often dominate the headlines; even as we acknowledge the real hardships that so many Africans face every day — we have to make sure that we’re all seizing the extraordinary potential of today’s Africa, the youngest and fastest-growing continent,” Obama said.
YALI is about capitalizing on the creativity and talent of Africa’s young leaders by empowering them with the skills, training, and technology necessary to make lasting change, and meaningful progress back home. And to do so, we are engaging public and private sector partners to create new Regional Leadership Centers across Africa to reach more young leaders. We’re joining with American universities, African institutions and business partners like Microsoft and MasterCard Foundation. Starting next year, young Africans can come to these centers to network, access the latest technology, and get training in management and entrepreneurship. The first centers will be located in Senegal, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya — and will provide tens of thousands of young Africans the resources they need to put their ideas into action.
As last year came to a close, the world said goodbye to one of the brightest lights the world has ever known — President Nelson Mandela. His life was proof of the power within each of us to leave the world better than we found it. Yet, as that brilliant star dimmed, we now have the opportunity to see 500 more shine brightly this week.
One of this summer’s Fellows, Sobel Ngom from Senegal, captured the spirit of his experience in the YALI program this way: “Here, I have met Africa. The [Africa] I have always believed in. She is beautiful, young, full of talent, motivation and ambition.” And being here with all of his Fellow Mandela Washington Fellows — learning together, working together, dreaming together — has only strengthened his determination, he says, to realize his aspirations for his country and his continent.
July 24, 2014
By STEVEN HERBERT
City News Service
President Barack Obama arrived aboard Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport Wednesday afternoon for a planned 24 1/2-hour visit to conduct two political fundraisers and speak at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. Los Angeles was the final stop on Obama’s three-day, three-city West Coast fundraising trip, which began Tuesday July 22, in Seattle, where he spoke at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser. Obama will begin his day in San Francisco, where he is to attend a morning fundraiser benefiting the House Majority Political Action Committee.
He spoke and answered questions at an early afternoon Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser in Los Altos Hills. Obama’s first stop of his visit to Los Angeles was at the Hancock Park home of television producer Shonda Rhimes for a late-afternoon DNC fundraising reception and dinner. Tickets for the event begin at $1,000, according to an invitation posted on the website, PoliticalPartyTime.org, which tracks political fundraisers.
The price was $10,000 to attend the reception and for the opportunity to have a photo taken with Obama, and $32,400 — the maximum allowable contribution to a national party committee in a calendar year — to be a co-host of the event, which also allowed the donor to attend a dinner with Obama in addition to the reception and the photo opportunity. The event’s co-chairs included Kerry Washington, the star of the Rhimes-produced ABC drama “Scandal.” Rhimes is also a producer of two other ABC dramas, the long-running “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How to Get Away with Murder,” which is set to premiere Sept. 25.
“The overwhelming majority” of tickets for the fundraiser were priced at $1,000 “because most of the people I know cannot afford” a $32,400 ticket, Rhimes told City News Service.
On Thursday, Obama was scheduled to participate in a roundtable discussion with about 30 people at the Los Angeles home of Michael Rapino, CEO of the concert promotion firm Live Nation, with tickets costing $32,400 each, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Proceeds benefit the Democratic National Committee. The lone planned non-fundraising event of Obama’s visit to California was also scheduled Thursday at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, where he was expected to speak on the “importance of job-driven skills training, particularly for fast-growing sectors such as health care,” according to the White House.
Various groups describing themselves as pro-immigration and pro-Palestinian planned to protest outside Trade-Technical College, calling for ending deportations of immigrants in the country without legal permission, for the U.S. to demand Israel end its attacks on Palestinians and for the creation of a Palestinian state. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, who will become House majority leader on Aug. 1, criticized Obama on Tuesday for not addressing California’s drought during his visit to the state, calling him “clueless to the fact that Californians care more for solving our problems than they care for high-dollar presidential fundraisers.”
Obama spoke about the drought at a farm in Los Banos in the San Joaquin Valley in February. The Obama administration has provided assistance to the state's farmers and ranchers in a variety of programs, sought to increase coordination and flexibility in water allocations; and improve drought monitoring, research and tools. The trip was Obama’s 19th to Los Angeles or Orange counties since taking office in 2009 and the third in three months. All but three of his trips have included political fundraisers.
July 17, 2014
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (District 2) announced his support for Chief Jim McDonnell for LA County Sheriff.
“Chief Jim McDonnell has the integrity and foresight to lead the Sheriff’s Department into a new era of transparency and success,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Throughout his years of public service, he has shown that he is not just tough on crime, but smart on crime, with the insights to recognize the value of investing in prevention and crime reduction strategies that keep our community safe and also help promote more positive outcomes for those at risk of entry into the justice system. I look forward to working with Chief McDonnell to ensure we are providing community-based treatment options instead of incarceration for those who suffer from mental illness and could benefit from these services.”
At the press conference, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and Chief McDonnell were joined by more than a dozen local South LA community leaders and ministers, including Pastor Xavier Thompson, President of the Baptist Ministers Conference.
Pastor Thompson said, “Chief McDonnell understands the balance that the Sheriff’s Department must have within our communities, protecting the rights of our residents while ensuring the safety of our families. There is no question that Chief McDonnell is the right person for this job.”
Chief McDonnell has now received the support of all five current supervisors, Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich, Don Knabe, Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky, as well as Supervisor-Elect Hilda Solis and a host of other elected officials, law enforcement professionals and community leaders from all sides of the political spectrum.
In response to the endorsement, Chief McDonnell said, “I’m proud to have the support of Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, a highly regarded County leader who is deeply committed to transparency and accountability in the Sheriff’s Department and a tremendous advocate for community engagement. I look forward to working together to find ways that we can protect our neighborhoods and help our children and families thrive.”
Chief McDonnell has served as Chief of the Long Beach Police Department since 2010 and previously served as the second in command in the Los Angeles Police Department. He was appointed to the Los Angeles Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence to “initiate and carry out a community-level review of alleged inappropriate use of force by deputies assigned to the jails.” Chief McDonnell is been a vocal supporter of developing diversion programs to help provide support for the mentally ill in the justice system, believing there are some inmates who would be better served by community-based treatment options that can address the underlying problems, while still maintaining community safety.