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L.A. County Fair Sept 1-24, 2017

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Government

Government (87)

Aguilar Hosts Third Jobs Fair for Inland Empire Residents

San Bernardino, CA— On Friday, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-San Bernardino) held an Inland Empire Jobs Fair at the San Bernardino Boys & Girls Club, hosting over 300 hundred San Bernardino County residents looking for work and connecting them with 58 local employers and job training opportunities. This is the third jobs fair Rep. Aguilar has hosted since taking office in 2015.

“To get our economy back on track and put Inland Empire residents back to work, we need local assistance as much as we need policy solutions. It’s important that we utilize available community resources to directly connect job seekers with skills training and local employers looking to hire,” said Rep. Aguilar. He added, “As our region continues to recover from the Great Recession, I’ll use every tool necessary to make sure our community members have the help they need to provide for their families.”

Christina Avalos, Human Resources Recruiter for States Logistics Services, Inc., commented on the event, “Not only was it well attended, but the applicants we saw were of great quality, great caliber, and had such an eagerness to work.” She continued, “Because of this event, we were able to add six more people to our needs, which cut our need down by one-third, so we are very grateful.”

“I think that the congressman is doing a really good job bringing this many vendors out to a jobs fair,” said Colton resident Stephen Hyman. He continued, “I’d like to thank Congressman Aguilar for organizing this event.”

Rep. Aguilar has prioritized legislation to create good-paying jobs, support local businesses and invest in workforce skills training. During his first term in office, he introduced five bills to help kick-start the Inland Empire economy. Last month, he reintroduced the On-the-Job Training Tax Credit Act, a bill to help local employers expand their workforce and pay for training of new hires. Rep. Aguilar has helped over 100 residents find employment with the two previous jobs fairs he hosted in 2015 and 2016.

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HUD Director Goes on $336,000 Shopping Spree with Low-Income Housing Funds

AUGUST 18, 2017 A high-ranking public housing official charged with providing government-subsidized homes to the poor stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the agency and used it to buy furniture, alcohol, clothes, makeup and other personal items. The crooked public official scammed the government for years undetected which may seem unbelievable though not when it comes to the agency she worked for, a bastion of corruption known as Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

This is an agency that’s been embroiled in a multitude of serious scandals—under both Democrat and Republican administrations—over the years. One veteran employee at a state branch stealing a few hundred thousand bucks to go on a marathon shopping spree is no biggie. Problems go back to the Ronald Reagan administration, when an influence-peddling scandal led to the conviction of 16 people, including top aides to then HUD Secretary Samuel Pierce. Bill Clinton’s housing secretary, Henry Cisneros, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about payments to his former mistress. George W. Bush’s HUD secretary, Alphonso Jackson, was ousted after the feds launched an investigation into his plots to enrich himself and his friends by giving them lucrative government contracts. Barack Obama’s second HUD secretary, Julian Castro, misspent the agency’s federal funds as mayor of San Antonio.

Fraud and corruption has also been pervasive among HUD employees and field directors. A few years ago, an employee got busted for racking up nearly $12,000 on his agency credit card by charging personal items such as groceries, lodging, television cable, transportation and even prescription medications. A federal audit determined that the agency knew about the spending spree but didn’t bother taking action, reprimanding the employee or reporting the wrongdoing. HUD’s inspector general has also testified before Congress about the severe mismanagement at offshoots functioning independently—yet federally funded—in states across the country that have fleeced taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of dollars. He testified that his office discovered more than $200 million in questionable spending at local public housing agencies (PHAs) since 2012. PHAs are created by states, operate at the city or county level and administer the federal program known as Section 8 to provide low-income people with affordable housing. Many of these local public housing agencies are run by people with “troubled backgrounds” that somehow manage to remain in high-ranking positions at the agencies, the watchdog told lawmakers back in 2014.

Years later, an executive director at one of those branches in Michigan gets busted for embezzling $336,000. Her name is Lorena Loren and for years she served as the executive director of the St. Clair Housing Commission, which administers a local Section 8 housing program in southeast Michigan. Section 8 is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly and the disabled to afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market. The program is administered locally by Public Housing Agencies (PHA) like the St. Clair Housing Commission so the cash comes from the feds though there appears to be no oversight. The idea is to subsidize housing costs, via vouchers, so the poor can live in privately owned, single-family homes, townhouses or apartments they otherwise couldn’t afford.

For eight years Loren used government credit cards as her personal piggy bank, buying items for herself and relatives, according to a federal charging document obtained by a Detroit, Michigan newspaper. She racked up around $135,000 in purchases from online retailer Amazon, $14,364 at big-box store Sam’s Club and $16,460 at various Walmart stores. The purchases included food, medicine, appliances, furniture, clothing and booze. The disgraced housing director also used $24,600 in agency funds to pay for her son’s rental unit, falsified documents—including lease agreements to use housing voucher cash to rent a home for her son—and deposited federal rental subsidy funds into family members’ bank accounts. Loren has been charged with conspiracy to commit federal program fraud and faces up to five years in prison.

Clearly, this is part of a much broader epidemic at HUD. A Michigan-area newspaper editorial blasts the agency for failing to protect taxpayer dollars and low-income families that need help. The piece cites other recent cases in which public employees stole from HUD’s Section 8 program, including a 52-person ring in Ohio and schemes in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado and Massachusetts. “It should be more difficult for housing commission directors to write checks to themselves,” the editorial states. “And the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development should be keeping closer watch over its Section 8 voucher program.” Hopefully President Trump’s new HUD secretary, Ben Carson, will clean some house at the fraud-infested agency. We don’t’ need a newspaper editorial to tell us that “HUD clearly has a gap in its fiduciary responsibility.”

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Autonomy Initiative group calls for California to take back federal lands

San Francisco, CA: California Freedom Coalition, the grassroots non-profit behind the initiative “California Autonomy from Federal Government,” called for the State of California to actively seek ownership of federal lands through a proposed amendment to SB 50, a bill currently before the State Assembly.

SB 50, introduced by Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) calls for the State Lands Commission to intervene in any attempt to sell off federal lands. It is part of a larger legislative package known as Preserve California.

“Preserve California is exactly the sort of approach we had in mind when we wrote the language in our initiative calling our state government to ‘buffer Californians against chaos, dysfunction, and uncertainty at the federal level’,” said Dave Marin, Director of Research and Policy of the California Freedom Coalition. The group endorsed SB 49 (De León D-Los Angeles), another bill in the Preserve California package, which would enshrine current federal environmental, public health, and labor standards in state law.

“Our concern with SB 50 is that it writes into state policy that federal lands should remain under federal ownership forever,” said Marin. “We see the fact that 45% of our state is owned and controlled by the federal government as a historical anomaly, not a bedrock principle. What matters is continued public ownership of public open space. The federal government sets such a low baseline that we think state ownership would be preferable in most cases.” Marin cited the 2013 Rim Fire near Groveland, CA as an example of mismanagement of federal land.

“We are a grassroots non-profit with a mission that goes beyond a single initiative,” said Steve Gonzales, president of the California Freedom Coalition. “Our focus is on fair representation for Californians, and, until we can get that through national electoral reform, greater autonomy through our own state government. If necessary, we’re ready to fight for California’s autonomy one policy, one piece of land, at a time.”

Dave Marin will be present at the Assembly Appropriations Committee at the State Capitol (Room 2114) starting at 9 AM on Wednesday and is happy to take questions from the press.

About The California Freedom Coalition: The CFC is a not for profit, non-partisan organization that was formed to educate and advocate for the voting rights of California. We are a grassroots organization dedicated to ensuring that California and its nearly 40 million citizens and residents have a truly proportionate voice and vote in electing a national government that reflects their values, intentions and expectations. Please visit our website at calfreeco.org.

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Cyber Security Seminar

ONTARIO, CA – On Thursday, August 17th, Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-Pomona) will host a cybersecurity seminar where local government officials and law enforcement will be briefed by a panel of experts on the latest cyber threats and how to prepare for a cyber-attack.

We have seen over the past few years that cyber criminals are not only targeting large corporations and institutions, but that our local governments and commerce are also under attack. This seminar will provide information and resources to our local officials who are on the front lines of protecting our information networks.

Press is invited to attend the briefing and speak to participants after the event.

Who:

Rep. Norma J. Torres (CA-35)

Department of Homeland Security

National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, US Department of Commerce

Kryptos Logic

When:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Event – 2:00pm – 3:30pm

 

Press Availability – 3:30pm – 3:45pm

Where:

Location provided upon RSVP.

 

RSVP:

Press interested in attending the event should RSVP to Dara Cohe

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New Resource Promotes Diversity in Selecting Federal Magistrate and Bankruptcy Judges

Diversity on the bench is essential to achieving the promise of equal justice, yet state and federal courts do not reflect the diversity of the populations that they serve. Today, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and the American Bar Association Judicial Division released a new resource that provides concrete guidance on how to increase diversity among federal magistrate and bankruptcy judges.

While the federal judiciary overall has become more representative of America, magistrate and bankruptcy courts continue to lag behind. But, federal judges appoint and re-appoint individuals to those benches, so the judiciary itself can address this problem. Building A Diverse Bench: Selecting Federal Magistrate and Bankruptcy Judges analyzes the current state of judicial diversity and its value to the system, and focuses on simple changes that can strengthen the applicant pool and the candidates selected for judgeships.

The manual outlines a set of best practices recommended by an advisory committee of federal circuit court, district court, magistrate, and bankruptcy judges, as well as circuit executives, clerks of court, and other court experts. It includes suggestions for every stage of a court’s selection process, including pipeline-building, recruitment, vetting, deliberations, and voting.

“When litigants enter our courtrooms and see diverse judges and lawyers, their perceptions of our justice system will change,” writes foreword author Hon. Frank J. Bailey, a judge for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts. “Just as important, a judiciary filled with a wide array of perspectives will enrich our understanding of the communities we serve and improve our ability to fulfill the obligations and ideals that we have sworn to uphold.”

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Man who claimed a "Government Mind Control Project" caused him to kill a store clerk convicted of murder

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - A San Bernardino man was convicted Thursday for the 2010 violent murder of a grocery store clerk.
 A jury found 35-year-old Junior Tejeda guilty of one count of Murder and two counts of Robbery, and found true two firearm allegations.
 On Nov. 8, 2010, a masked man wielding a shotgun-later identified as Tejeda-entered a San Bernardino market, pointed the shotgun at the clerk and asked him to open the register. Before the clerk could respond, Tejeda shot the clerk one time in the head. The defendant, who had just been released from prison 24 hours earlier, never grabbed any money and ran out of the market.
 According to Deputy District Attorney Cecilia Joo, who prosecuted the case, it wasn't until approximately a year and a half later that investigators were able to identify Tejeda as the suspect after he committed another armed robbery.
 Tejeda entered the same market, which now had different owners, and demanded money from the store owner. At first, the owner didn't want to cooperate, but a second victim came out from the back and gave Tejeda some money from the register.
 Officers with the San Bernardino Police Department found Tejeda a few blocks away, hiding, with the money and gun dumped nearby. While representing himself, Tejeda attempted to blame a "Government Mind Control Project" as having been the reason for all the crimes.
 Tejeda faces 54 years to life when sentenced Aug. 11 at the San Bernardino Justice Center.

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Aguilar Announces Veterans Resource Fair

San Bernardino, CA –  Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-San Bernardino) announced that he will hold a Veterans Resource Fair on Friday, August 18th from 10:00AM to 1:00PM at the Frank A. Gonzales Community Center in Colton. The event will provide veterans in California’s 31st Congressional District with information and resources on health care, housing, employment and assistance with VA claims.
“When our veterans come home, they deserve the best care we can provide, and that starts here in our community,” said Rep. Aguilar. He continued, “There are important resources, advocacy organizations and assistance programs in the Inland Empire that can help our veterans, but we need to do a better job connecting our veterans with those vital services. My resource fair will help bridge the gap and get veterans the support they need to live healthy lives.”
Rep. Aguilar’s 2017 Veterans Resource Fair will be held at the Frank A. Gonzales Community Center, which is located at 670 Colton Avenue in Colton. Admission is free, no RSVP is required and lunch will be provided. For more information about the event, please contact Rep. Aguilar’s office at 909-890-4445.

What: 2017 Veterans Resource Fair hosted by Rep. Pete Aguilar

When: Friday, August 18th from 10:00AM to 1:00PM

Where: Frank A. Gonzales Community Center   670 Colton      Avenue  Colton, CA  92324

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30 Outstanding Leaders Are Honored by Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes

San Bernardino, CA - July 22, 2017 Vanessa Perez, Associate Director for Time for Change Foundation was announced as one of the 30 Under 30 awardees by Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes. The award ceremony  took place Saturday, July 22, 2017 at the Garcia Center for the Arts at 7:30 pm.
"It is such an honor to be recognized for work that you are called to do," expressed Perez. "It's my joy and passion to help women who are underserved and to use my talents as a leader and developer to help build them up."
Perez has an active history of volunteerism, advocating for equality, and a heart for teaching women how to use their voices to make a difference. These attributes made her a great fit for Time for Change Foundation, where she began as an intern. Through hard work and dedication, she quickly earned a role as Civic Engagement Specialist. During that time, she completed the Women's Foundation of California's Women's Policy Institute where she gained the skills to navigate the California legislative process and influence decision makers to create policies that better the quality of life in her local community and for all Californians.
She continued to strengthen her leadership and development skills and soon worked her way to becoming TFCF's Associate Director, where she leads the implementation of the Foundation's strategic plans.
Under the tutelage of Kim Carter, TFCF's Founder and Executive Director, Perez was thrust into the highly demanding role of running an organization. She quickly learned to create opportunities for the agency to expand on its many successful programs, all while doing public speaking, radio shows, networking, fundraising, testifying at the State Capitol, and advocating for change.
She accomplished all of that by staying connected to the agency's mission, to empower disenfranchised low income individuals and families by building leadership through evidence-based programs and housing to create self-sufficiency and thriving communities.
"I can honestly say that Vanessa has the stamina to go the distance and she has demonstrated a true understanding of how and why we are Time for Change Foundation," expressed Carter. "The best part of all, is I'm happy that I finally get to take vacations now!"
At age 29, Perez has quickly climbed the professional ladder and created a path for others to follow. She is a dynamic leader that is not afraid to demand and create change all while serving others. She sets the standard for professionalism and selflessness. With all that she has accomplished, there is no doubt that she is only getting started and this is not the last that you will hear of her accomplishment's and trailblazing work.
In addition, Perez is an active member of her church, The Way World Outreach. There she uses her natural gifts and talents to help others. A beacon for the community, she works tirelessly to build other leaders and to make sure people are utilizing their talents to the best of their ability.
30 Under 30 consists of men and women under the age of 30 who exemplified dedication, innovation, and service in the 47th Assembly District. They stem from a variety of professional roles such as entrepreneurs, innovators, public servants, and community members. Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes will honor the awardees on Saturday, July 22, 2017 at the Garcia Center for the Arts located at 536 West 11th Street, San Bernardino, CA 92410.

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Medicaid cuts hurt rural seniors and rural communities

Tucked within the text of both the House and Senate’s bills to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is language which seeks to fundamentally change the Medicaid program. While the enactment of this legislation is unknown, the principle remains, and rural seniors would be hurt.
For rural states and regions that already encounter the health care challenges of an older, poorer and less healthy population, Medicaid allows access to care to remain for even those who are not enrolled under the entitlement.   
In our nation’s rural areas, 15 percent of residents over the age of 65 are on Medicaid. Yet, 36 percent of total Medicaid expenditures pay for costs accrued by Medicare beneficiaries over the age of 65. Of this Medicaid spending for seniors, a significant portion covers long-term care costs – three in five nursing home residents.
Remove Medicaid from the payer source for rural seniors and entire communities are left to suffer. Nursing homes not only provide care to seniors but are major employers in rural communities. Without Medicaid reimbursements to cover the costs of care, closures and accompanying job losses would become yet another casualty of Medicaid cuts.
While the reliance upon Medicaid reimbursements to keep the doors of nursing homes open is not ideal, it is a reality for rural communities. Before Congress makes sweeping changes to Medicaid, senators and representatives need to step back and acknowledge the broader costs that will be paid just outside of the city limits.

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Court Approves Landmark $5 Million Settlement Of Class Action Lawsuit On Behalf Of Port Truck Drivers

LOS ANGELES, CA – Last week, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) and Wage Justice Center secured final approval of a $5 million class action settlement brought on behalf of over 400 Latino and Korean immigrants against a port trucking company comprised of related corporate entities. Port truck drivers are the backbone of a $450 billion industry in Southern California.

“We are proud that with this settlement, hundreds of drivers will be rightfully compensated, and we hope this case sends a strong signal to other drivers that they can win if they fight back. The settlement is the first to successfully attack a dual scheme of misclassification and corporate shell games that is endemic in the port trucking industry,” stated Nicole Ochi, supervising litigation attorney from Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles. “Unfortunately, misclassification is the port industry norm. Nearly two-thirds of all port truck drivers nationally are misclassified as independent contractors, resulting in an impoverished, mostly immigrant workforce.”

The company, QTS, Inc., and its related entities, including LACA Express and Win Win Logistics, misclassified their drivers as independent contractors in order to deny them their rightful compensation and then hid behind purported bankruptcy protections to avoid liability for wage theft and other exploitative business practices. By classifying the drivers as independent contractors but controlling them like employees, companies are able to evade taxes as well as shift all the costs of operating their businesses to the drivers, including the cost of trucks, gas, maintenance and repair, and insurance, leaving drivers with poverty wages. These high weekly deductions operate like debt bondage, forcing the drivers to work dangerously long hours to eke out a living.

“The company took money from my paycheck to pay for the truck lease, gas and insurance. Some of my fellow truckers even owed money to the company at the end of a hard week. But over 50 of us drivers stuck together for the last five years despite being fired and intimidated,” says Samuel Talavera, a former driver for QTS, Inc. “We knew we would help our fellow truckers if we stayed together down this long road.”

Judge Elihu M. Berle of the Los Angeles Superior Court ruled on the motion for final approval of the class settlement. Of the 423 drivers contacted, 243 filed claims representing 82.8 percent of the total work weeks where violations occurred. Drivers will receive an average of $13,502 each. The settlement also includes up to $7,500 to drivers who the companies retaliated against for asserting their legal rights. Forms of retaliation ranged from refusing to repair drivers’ trucks, being assigned less lucrative routes, and outright firing. For those drivers publicly involved in the litigation, who risked being blacklisted in the industry, an additional $6,500 will be awarded for their efforts.

During four years of litigation, QTS, Inc. filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, nominally to “reorganize” its debts, but in reality to frustrate the ongoing litigation and evade any responsibility for its debts. “The defendants in this case filed for bankruptcy to try to avoid paying our drivers their hard-earned wages,” said Jay Shin, Directing Attorney at Wage Justice Center. “But we were not ready to concede the millions of dollars stolen from our drivers. We doggedly followed them into bankruptcy court and used innovative legal theories to hold the companies liable.”

In a novel move, the drivers transferred their state court litigation into bankruptcy court by suing the non-bankrupt entities as creditors of the voluntarily abandoned and bankrupt entity. They asked the bankruptcy court to consolidate the assets and debts of all the entangled business enterprises. The parties reached the current settlement after 18 months of litigation in bankruptcy court entailing the subpoena of the defendants’ major customers, review of tens of thousands of pages of documents and deposition of the officers of the business entities.

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