May 22, 2014
City News Service
The Los Angeles City Council signed off this week on a package of revisions to the mayor’s $8.1 billion budget proposal that includes $10 million in additional funding for the fire department. The City Council is expected to vote next week on the revised 2014-15 fiscal year spending plan, which would then be forwarded to the mayor for his signature. Together with Mayor Eric Garcetti's own proposal to hire 140 more firefighters and rebuild the fire department, the extra $10 million approved by council brings the LAFD’s budget to $22 million above the previous year.
The added fire spending, which would be funded using short-term reserves and higher revenue projections, includes $3.65 million to replace fire safety equipment, $3.5 million to hold an extra firefighter recruit training class, and $3.34 million to keep 11 more ambulances on the streets for another six months. Eight city attorneys would be hired for nine months under another change proposed by the council. The added $622,424 would pay salaries for five attorneys to work in the neighborhood prosecutor program and three to handle enforcement of Proposition D, the voter-approved measure restricting the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles.
The council also added $5 million for bulky-item pick up service, $2.1 million to maintaining medians and $1 million for graffiti abatement. The council nixed Garcetti's proposal to hire 50 part-time traffic officers using $915,750. The mayor's office estimated the officers would issue traffic citations that would bring in $3 million in revenue, but the council decided instead to spend $207,207 to hire five full-time officers to provide traffic control at congested intersections.
The city would still be hiring 17 more already budgeted part-time officers to issue citations that, according to council estimates, would bring in $2.29 million for the city. Garcetti’s budget proposal includes $20 million for sidewalk repairs, expanded library hours and spending $14.8 million to keep police ranks at 10,000. His spending plan, released in April, proposes to bridge a projected shortfall of $242 million in fiscal year 2014-15 with the help of better-than-expected returns from taxes; savings on employee pensions and benefits; the elimination of vacant positions that equal 46 full-time jobs; grants and surplus funds; and the city’s reserves.
The budget also assumes city employees will agree to no raises and paying 10 percent of their health-care premiums, but negotiations with city employees are still ongoing.
May 15, 2014
City News Service
A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy and a former member of the force, along with a custody assistant, were ordered recently to stand trial on charges stemming from the assault of jail inmates in Compton and Los Angeles. Deputy Jermaine W. Jackson, 36, is charged with three counts each of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, assault by a public officer and filing a false report. He is accused of assaulting three inmates, Cesar Campana, Derek Griscavage and Jonathan Murray, in separate incidents between 2009 and 2011.
Former sheriff’s deputy Karin Ann Cring, 32, is charged with filing a false report to cover up the Christmas Day 2010 beating of Griscavage at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility. Custody assistant Jayson Ellis, 26, is charged with one count of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury in the attack on Griscavage. All three have pleaded not guilty to the charges, which came after an internal investigation by the Sheriff’s Department, and are due back in court on June 3 for arraignment.
At least 20 other deputies or former deputies have been indicted in federal court on civil rights or corruption offenses. Many are alleged to have been involved in assaults or covering up assaults in the jails.
May 15, 2014
Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike always hoped that one day they would be able to do something to benefit their parents’ homeland of Nigeria.
The recent mass kidnappings of schoolgirls in the African nation have added a sense of urgency to the WNBA star sisters’ desire to help.
Education has always been important to their family, and the Stanford grads were distraught to hear about the 300-plus girls who were taken in the remote northeast area of Nigeria last month.
“There are some fundamental rights and a right to education is a big one,” Chiney told The Associated Press this week in a phone interview. “Everyone should have an education, no matter what form it is. That makes it even tougher that they were just trying to better their lives. It shouldn’t matter what type of education they are receiving.”
Nneka added: “It’s difficult to see these girls trying to go to school and get an education and this happened.”
“Bringing awareness can go a long way, I believe,” said the top pick by the Los Angeles Sparks in 2012.
The U.S.-born sisters, who became only the second set of siblings to be drafted with the No. 1 choice in one of the major sports leagues — joining Peyton and Eli Manning — have already begun plans to work with the US Fund for UNICEF. They want to maximize their impact and help Nigeria's education and child protection programs.
“It’s something we’re passionate about,” said Chiney, taken first by the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA draft last month. “When I was drafted to follow in Nneka’s footsteps, it was huge in Nigeria. My uncle sent me an email a day for two weeks with pictures, headlines and articles on the front page of Nigerian newspapers.”
“Nneka and I want people to know we care. We’re not passive. We want to be active in our own way and raise awareness,” she said.
Both sisters have already spent a lot of time in the country, visiting nearly every two years. Chiney spent eight weeks in Nigeria last spring as part of a study-abroad requirement for her international relations major. She also worked with the charity “Access to Success” to build a basketball court.
“I had a great experience. It’s eye-opening being an adult now and seeing it with adult eyes,” Chiney said. “I worked with the Minister of Petroleum and seeing people in power trying to change the country. I worked with the human rights committee and there are a lot of dilemmas with a variety of issues.”
The sisters have discussed putting “276” — at least that many girls are still missing — on their shoes when the WNBA season starts this weekend. They posted a photo on Instagram on Tuesday night of the two holding up signs saying: “(hash)Bring Back Our Girls.”
“This issue could have been swept under the rug,” Chiney said. “When I was there, a terrorist group did the same thing to some policemen. There were car bombs that didn't make international news. The innocence of African girls getting an education and getting kidnapped made it that much more vulnerable.”
May 08, 2014
LAWT News Service
PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America division recently announced the winners of its “Create to Celebrate” Black History Month art contest, which invited consumers to submit an original piece of art celebrating African American achievement in Black History. To celebrate, Frito-Lay will donate $20,000 to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). The donation, which will help support the future educational needs of artists and students across the nation, was driven by thousands of consumer votes.
“The tremendous enthusiasm and level of engagement our fans have shown in the ‘Create to Celebrate’ Black History Month art contest is truly inspiring,” said Haston Lewis, senior director of marketing, Frito-Lay North America. “Through this contest and our partnership with UNCF, we are honored to contribute to such an important cause and help improve the lives of talented artists.”
From January 13 to February 16, fans nationwide entered an original piece of art celebrating African American achievement in Black History as part of Frito-Lay’s “Create to Celebrate” Black History Month art contest. From there, each eligible entry was featured in an online gallery at www.celebratecommunityarts.com and eligible fans (13 years of age and older) were asked to vote for their favorite piece of art. The top-25 entries that received the most online votes became finalists and the winners were selected by a Frito-Lay judging panel based on artistic talent, creativity and Black History Month relevance. The complete list of 2014 “Create to Celebrate” Black History Month art contest winners include:
• Danielle Johnson of Biloxi, Miss. will receive the $10,000 grand prize
• Sam Fuller of Dallas, Texas will receive the $5,000 second prize
• Alannah Vincent of Dothan, Ala. will receive the $2,500 third prize
UNCF is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 21 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities across the country.
For more information, visit www.celebratecommunityarts.com.