June 06, 2013

LAWT News Service


With the income requirements for several energy saving programs increasing, Southern California Edison (SCE) encourages its customers to check out these programs so they can save money on their utility bills.

Starting June 1, the maximum-allowable income requirements for the California Alternate Rate for Energy (CARE) and the Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) programs have increased. The CARE program can save customers about 30 percent on their utility bill, while FERA provides a lower monthly discount for income-qualified households of three or more based on their energy usage.

“We want to ensure that our customers know about the various programs that can help reduce costs and save them money,” said Jack Parkhill, SCE manager for the Income Qualified and Economic Assistance Program. “With the income criteria increasing, more of our customers may be able to meet the requirements and qualify for one of the programs.”

To learn more about other income qualified programs, visit SCE at www.sce.com/billhelp or call 1-800-655-4555. The new income guidelines for the CARE and FERA programs starting June 1 are listed below:

Household Size           CARE FERA

1          $22,980           Not eligible

2          $31,020           Not eligible

3          $39,060           $39,061-$48,825

4          $47,100           $47,101-$58,875

5          $55,140           $55,141-$68,925

6          $63,180           $63,181-$78,975

7          $71,220           $71,221-$$89,025

8          $79,260           $79,261-$99,075

Each Additional          $8,040 $8,040-$10,050

With the summer approaching, SCE also encourages customers to take a proactive approach in reducing bills with these simple tips:

• Reduce your energy use on hot summer days between 2 p.m.-6 p.m., when demand reaches its peak.

• Set thermostats no lower than 78 degrees when it is hot.

• Use electric fans instead of air conditioning when practical.

• Close drapes and blinds to keep out direct sunlight during hot periods.

• Use appliances such as dishwashers and clothes dryers during morning or evening hours.

For more ways to save energy and money this summer, visit www.SCE.com/CoolSavings. Customers can also get summer savings and efficiency tips via our Twitter feed and Facebook page.

Parent Category: News
Category: Community

June 06, 2013

LAWT News Service


The Los Angeles County Fire Department is holding a “special election” to help “elect” six Junior Fire Chiefs for 2013!  For the next week until June 11, the Department is taking its traditional “Junior Fire Chief for a Day Poster Contest” to the social media world and inviting members of the public to cast their votes for the best artwork created by Junior Fire chief candidates to convey their message, “Visit a Local Professional Fireworks Show.”

Out of over 1,200 entries submitted by students in grades one through six throughout Los Angeles County elementary schools, 32 finalists have already been selected by County firefighters and uploaded to www.photobucket.com for public voting.  The “Junior Fire Chief for a Day Poster Contest was first created by the Department in 1991 to help encourage people of all ages to enjoy a safe Fourth of July Holiday celebration by attending a public fireworks display handled by pyrotechnical professionals, rather than using home-use fireworks. 

With the Department’s increasing use of social media to help reach its four million residents across the County, officials decided to share this time-honored tradition.  As votes come in, the Department will provide updates on the Junior Fire Chief race on its Facebook page (facebook.com/LACoFD) and its Twitter account (twitter.com/ LACo_FD). In the past, only members of the Department took part in the official vote. 

“I want to highlight this fireworks safety public education campaign that local school children have helped us create for the past 22 years,” says Fire Chief Daryl Osby. “Not only are the six winners honored by sharing my title of Fire Chief for a day, they will be treated with activities throughout the day by our firefighters.”

Here’s how to cast your vote: 

1. Visit http://s1349.photo­bucket.com/user/LACountyFire/­library/?sort=4&page=1 and select one winner in each grade level from grades one through six.

2. To vote, click on the small “heart image” below your choice.  This will count as your vote.

3. Follow our progress on our social media sites: Facebook (facebook.com/LACoFD) and Twitter (twitter.com/LACo_FD). Use hashtag #JRFIREChief!

4. On Sunday, June 9, we will post our top candidates on Facebook and Twitter.

5. Gain extra votes for your candidate by reweeting on Twitter and liking on Facebook.

6. A Fire Department prize pack will be awarded to the person who shares the most through social media!

Election results will be announced on the Department’s Facebook page and Twitter account, and at a press conference held on June 21 to announce the six grand prize winners.  The media will be invited to accompany the Junior Fire Chiefs while they enjoy their activities.  Get out your vote today!

Parent Category: News
Category: Community

June 06, 2013


Assistant Managing Editor


In an election that pitted Compton’s past against its future, Aja Brown brought a burst of youthful energy, a USC master's degree in planning and almost a decade of experience working in cities, to the hub city’s mayoral seat.

Brown, an urban planner pounded former mayor Omar Bradley with 63.7 percent compared to 36.2 percent of the vote. She captured 4,143 votes and Bradley got 2,360 votes.

The Compton city clerk office confirmed the results to the Sentinel late Tuesday evening and will certify the election results on Monday June 10.

On a relatively quiet night in the hub city where a slight breeze blew eastward on Compton Blvd., the woman who was destined to become the second female elected mayor in the history of Compton was at her noisy campaign office.

Brown, 31 posed for photographs and shook hands while her supporters wearing white Aja T-shirts made loud chatter as the voters went to the polls to decide whether they would pick someone who represented what Compton was or someone who represented what Compton can be.

It was clearly an election that hinged on the past versus the future and in the end voters made it clear that they were putting their trust in the hands of the future---Aja Brown.

“I believe that timing is everything and the city of Compton was ready for a change,” said Brown.

Brown worked in Compton’s planning department from 2009 to 2011 and at the height of the abyss and pending layoffs left to take a new job elsewhere.

“I was offered to stay on and even be promoted although I didn’t meet the qualifications, but I decided against it because it wasn’t right,’ she explained.

Disappointed and hurt by the leadership of the city where she grew up, Brown went back four years ago, vowed to run for mayor and make a change at the top.

“When I look at Compton I don’t think it’s any different than Harlem or Brooklyn in that we have such a rich culture and people who have been successful, but they don’t come back. I want to be the reason they return.”

Compton is recognized as the birthplace of rap music and has produced the likes of Eazy E, Dr. Dre, The Game and also was responsible for tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams who grew up there. However, since moving to South Florida and dominating the world of women’s tennis, they have yet to come back to Compton.

“If someone wanted to give back where would they give back to? There has not been a clear channel to establish an opportunity for them to give back,” Brown told the Sentinel.

“I plan on focusing on basic governing. Nothing fancy. Just doing what is right to getting the city back on track. We have not had that type of infrastructure to sustain growth.”

Brown realizes that the task before her over the next four years will not be easy but she believes that she is prepared for it.

“I believe that in anything that you do you are always going to have your critics. I don’t live my life catering to people who criticize me, I live my life knowing that I have a purpose and everyone who wants an opportunity to join us in what we’re doing here in this new vision for Compton is welcome.”

Brown concluded; “The tough and hard work begins now.”

In other Compton election results, Issac Galvan became the first Latino elected to City Council when he defeated incumbent Lillie Dobson 603 (60.0 percent) to 402 (40.0 percent).

Parent Category: News
Category: Community

June 06, 2013


Assistant Managing Editor


In life it is not always where you start, but more importantly where you finish and the commitment one makes to both family and community. There isn’t a better example of life’s evolving journey than Bank of America Western Region Senior Vice President Barry Simmons.

For Simmons that journey which nurtured his character, honed his determination and inspired his spirit for diversity and many of life lessons began on a high school football field in New Orleans.

He was a teammate of Cooper Manning, the elder brother of NFL super star quarterback Peyton Manning, who was a young unpolished quarterback during that time.

A line backer on the field, Simmons went on to play at the University of Virginia and probably could have been one of the prestigious 1500 members National Football League club, but he’s among an even more elite group now.

As an African American who holds the title of Senior Vice President of one of the world’s leading financial institutions, Simmons holds a status in the business community that is rarely achieved.

“I want people to remember me as a leader who really cared about his people and who was really invested in their development,” said Simmons who is the Senior Vice President for Bank of America’s western region.

His responsibility today carries more weight than a football player chasing down a running back or quarterback and puts him in a position to make life-changing decisions for families and individuals across Los Angeles.

“Everyone I touch, I want to make their lives better, financially or otherwise. I want to leave an imprint in business and the communities I serve.”

For Simmons, it started 17 years ago in the management development program for the credit card company, Legacy MBNA. During his time there he was allowed to rotate through all of the entry-level positions.

Simmons started at telesales, outbound calls and collections then moved on to customer service and grave-yard shifts and the experience taught him to understand the people who he would eventually lead in his position at Bank of America.

His experience at MBNA was a great character building exercise and, more importantly, it was a great opportunity to understand how to lead by making an emotional connection instead of by authority.

“That helped me become a better leader over time as I was able to adapt and realize that diversity is key in leadership. It makes you a stronger leader. And, at the end of the day it’s all about making your people better, being able to have resources, answering questions for your people, providing the connections for people so they can improve, then your team is going to get that much better overall…”

Simmons main focus is how Bank of America can stay connected to its customers.  While some see Bank of America as a large corporation, Barry works with his team to ensure that customers build relationships with the financial advisors at the banking centers to ensure that our community is aware of the variety of product offerings at the bank.

This is especially important as banking becomes more digitized. Barry and his team are focused on customer service and have continued to add key specialists to help customers through life’s major financial decisions. 

Simmons’ unique approach to an automated dominated industry that can lack a personal connection, has been instrumental in BOA increasing its share of customers in Los Angeles’ diverse communities.

Simmons works with his team to foster a sense of connectivity.  He has made it a point to get down to the ground floor and out to the different banking centers every week for at least three days a week to make sure that his team is delivering to customers what they want and need.  His teams also hold customer feedback sessions in bank centers monthly.

“We bring customers into a conference room and we just talk about their experiences, real life experiences that they’ve had with Bank of America, whether it is banking center specifically or any other experiences,” he said.

“Customers are not shy and I love it. They will tell you exactly what is on their minds and they will tell you the truth. We’ve had customers come in and say, ‘I love your banking center, etc. but I need someone to help me with more complex needs.’”

“And that’s what my group is focused on. Those are the obstacles that I’m trying to say, ‘yes we can.’ We just need to make sure our associates are empowered to escalate that to the right people.”

Besides making life better for the bank’s customer, Simmons says Bank of America is also committed to financial literacy throughout Los Angeles. The bank recently launched www.BetterMoneyHabits.com to help consumers develop tools to help manage their personal finances.

“We’re focusing on a non biased financial education that can benefit anyone. We’ve partnered with the Khan Academy, a leading educational non-profit, to develop BetterMoney­Habits.com.  We encourage our consumers, non customers and customers alike to visit this site because they have educational videos from anything like how to build savings, how to manage credit, how to budget, which we think are going to be a tremendous value to all consumers.”

Bank of America has partnered with the National Foundation of Credit Counseling to hold financial seminars in select banking centers throughout Los Angeles. The seminars will be hosted after hours and the content will be focused on helping consumers to better simplify and manage their finances.  There are upcoming financial seminars at Brotherhood Crusade on June 12th, and at banking centers on MLK/Western and in Compton on June 11th and 13th.

“Because when you think about the educational environment in general we know that is a major need. And, it is a specialty of ours.  It’s our corporate responsibility to give back and really invest in financial education.  The National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s 2013 Financial Literacy Survey found that consumers gave themselves grades of C, D or F when asked about their knowledge of personal finance.  We’ve got to make sure that we’re focused on delivering that knowledge to the community.”

“We want customers from the time they get their first savings account, to their first job, to retirement… the life cycle. That’s the kind of relationship we want,” Simmons said.

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Category: Community

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