LA City celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

IN celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), the City of Los Angeles recognized three organizations on Friday, May 8, for their contributions to advancing and empowering Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in media arts and entertainment.

Visual Communications, Kollaboration and The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) received the Spirit Award, Dream Award and Hope Award, respectively.

“We know in the Asian perspective in media … we haven’t received recognition in many aspects, especially in entertainment…” California State Treasurer John Chiang said at the May 8 event held at Los Angeles City Hall.

The award for Visual Communications came just one week after it wrapped up the 31st annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, where it screened 155 films.

Francis Cullado, executive director of Visual Communications, who received the award on behalf of the organization, told individuals present at the event briefly about the history of the organization, which is the first non-profit in the United States dedicated to honest and accurate depictions of Asian Pacific Americans through media arts.

“Long before today there was just a collective spirit to show our history, our struggles, our accomplishment. There was a spirit to stand up and speak out for fairness, equality and justice,” Cullado said.

“Thank you for this award as an opportunity to reignite the spirit as we move forward.”

Kollaboration, a non-profit with locations throughout the United States, was recognized for its efforts to help artists from humble beginnings to achieve professional success. In Los Angeles, the organization is located in Koreatown.

At the beginning of the event, the organization showcased one of its artists, Priska Liang, who delivered a soulful performance of an original composition, “Keep to the Path,” which drew a big round of applause from the audience.

Minji Chang, executive direction of Kollaboration, received the award and spoke in a brief video screened at City Hall about how the organization serves as a place for artists and individuals to share their stories.

“I hope that when everybody sees these artists up on the stage owning who they are, owning their craft, showing how much bravery and dedication and passion goes into doing what they’re doing, I hope that they can really appreciate that they’re watching people create themselves right in front of their eyes,” she said.

CAPE, a non-profit with a mission of empowering, educating and connecting AAPI artists and leaders in entertainment and media, was also awarded for its impact in the community.

As the organization enters its 25th year, co-founder and board chair emeritus Wenda Fong shared that CAPE has changed lives, launched and boosted careers, and created programs and opportunities.

“We have worked tenaciously and passionately to grow CAPE into ever higher levels by establishing strong relationships with networks, studios, the guilds, companies, sponsors and our community,” she said. “Many have often heard me say that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and that it is our responsibility to help the next generation so they can stand on our shoulders. CAPE has done this. CAPE has changed lives…Our members have literally changed the face of television, film and social media.”

Fong also shared that CAPE’s #IAm campaign, which celebrates AAPI artists and role models throughout APAHM, is the largest AAPI campaign on YouTube and fourth largest non-profit campaign on the online video platform.

In addition to recognizing the organizations, city officials expressed their appreciation for the AAPI community in Los Angeles. Among them was city Controller Ron Galperin, who shared that 60 percent of employees at his office are AAPIs.

“Today we celebrate the many successes, the innumerable contributions of the [Asian American Pacific Islander American] community, while remembering the challenges, past and present, as we stand as one city from Historic Filipinotown, to Chinatown, to Thai Town to Koreatown, Little Tokyo and more,” Galperin said, noting that AAPI achievements have not come without hardship.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti touted the diversity of the city, to which the AAPI community contributes.

“You can go through 39 countries, many of them Asian Pacific countries, that are represented so that we can say this is indeed a great Cambodian city and a great Vietnamese city and a great Chinese city, and even a great Mongolian city. And all of us that are here together recognizing that this is, what we write today, isn’t just history we read, but that we make,” he said.

Other city officials who attended the event included Council President Herb Wesson Jr., Council President Pro Tempore Mitchell Englander, Councilmember Joe Buscaino and City Attorney Mike Feuer.

http://asianjournal.com/news/la-city-celebrates-asian-pacific-american-heritage-month/

Organizations support $20 million budget proposal for California’s immigrant community

A $20 million budget proposal to assist California’s immigrant community would be economically beneficial to the state, leaders of California community organizations say.

Under the proposal, ONE California, $20 million would be appropriated to the Department of Social Services to help lawful permanent residents obtain citizenship and undocumented immigrants who are eligible for deferred action programs. The department would grant funds to non-profits, community organizations and other qualified groups, which would provide outreach and education efforts, and application assistance to the immigrant community.

Proponents of the plan argue that the economy benefits when immigrants possess a more secure status. Among figures provided include that naturalization boosts earnings of new citizens by an average of 11 to 14 percent; similarly, figures released by the President’s Council of Economic advisers, which indicate executive actions on immigration would lift California’s GDP up to $27.5 billion throughout the next decade.

“We know that this $20 million will go a long way to develop that infrastructure for the millions of people that qualify for DACA and DAPA, and I think Los Angeles in California has the opportunity to become a model at the national level … to be the state and the city and the county that really values the importance of immigrants …” Martha Arevalo, executive director of Central American Resource Center, said Wednesday, May 13, at a press briefing about the proposal in Los Angeles.

Community leaders at the briefing discussed the current financial contributions of immigrants to the country and the state.

Jan Perry, general manager of the Economic and Workforce Development Department of the City of Los Angeles, called immigrants part of the population “that is just too big to fail.” She cited research indicating that Asian- and Latino-owned businesses combined employ more than 1.3 million people and take in sales and receipts worth $261 billion.

“You can see that without the determination and the drive of the immigrant workforce, our state would be in dire straits. We would not grow as fast as we have,” she said.

In 2012, 11.4 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States collectively paid $11.84 billion in state and local taxes, according to an April 16 report released by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). The analysis states if President Barack Obama’s executive actions clear its current hurdles, it would increase state and local tax contributions; if all undocumented immigrants living in the United States are allowed to work and reside in the country legally, ITEP states state and local tax contributions would rise by $2.2 billion.

“Clearly the ONE California budget proposal is not a bailout, it’s a stimulus for California,” said Efrain Escobedo, Vice President of Civic Engagement and Public Policy. “It’s not really about just benefiting immigrants and just helping immigrants integrate into our state, it’s also helping our state, through what is still an economic recovery process, so it’s a smart investment where $20 million could potentially return billions of dollars back to the California economy.”

The California Immigrant Policy Center states that under the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, 358,000 individuals are eligible; under the DACA expansion, an additional 98,000 would qualify; under the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program, more than 1.1 million parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents would be eligible; and 2.48 million lawful permanent residents are eligible for citizenship.

“There’s a tremendous stigma attached to being undocumented,” said Carlos Amador, lead organizer at California Immigrant Policy Center. “And then having the barriers of language access really hinders people from applying for deferred action or moving forward to apply for citizenship. So this proposal … can really strategically target many of these communities with the experts in the field working hand-in-hand with these communities.”

Advocates of the proposal are currently talking to government leaders to ensure their opinions are heard during negotiations.

Among those backing ONE California is Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who expressed his support in a letter to Sen. Holly Mitchell and Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, chairs of budget subcommittees.

Garcetti wrote that California is home to nearly 4 million individuals who qualify for naturalization or deferred action and that nearly a third of them reside in the City of Los Angeles.

“Unfortunately, the current immigration and naturalization system is poorly funded,” he wrote. “Federal inaction compels states and local governments to take steps on behalf of its residents to place a patch on the current system and help eligible immigrants take full advance of their legal rights.”

http://asianjournal.com/news/organizations-support-20-million-budget-proposal-for-californias-immigrant-community/

California Faculty Association demands fair treatment from CSU

The ongoing budget cuts to California’s higher education system have affected students and administrators, but the effects have also taken a toll on adjunct faculty.

Adjuncts, also typically categorized as “lecturers,” are temporarily appointed faculty not tenured to the institutions at which they teach. Their jobs hinge on budget availability and class enrollment. They are paid by the course, and may or may not receive benefits depending on the number of classes they teach.

“As the budget starts to erode, and we have less class sections, the first to lose their jobs are lecturers or adjuncts, because they are part-time and temporary personnel,” said Nate Thomas, CSUN chapter president of the California Faculty Association.

The association is a union that represents 23,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches in the California State University system, according to its website.

Faculty in the Cal State system are currently working under a contract that expired 22 months ago. Members of the association would like to maintain the same terms and conditions in the expired June 2010 contract, but Thomas said a new proposed contract would cut benefits, increase the number of students in each class, and require faculty to pay more for parking.

“What they’re doing is using a bad economy to dish out a bad contract for us and using this crisis to diminish the power of the faculty,” he said.

In addition to their contract status, faculty have not received a raise in four years, Thomas said.

As a result, members of the association have been voting on a two-day rolling strike, which if approved, would take place in the fall throughout the 23 Cal State campuses.

While different types of teachers are represented in the California Faculty Association, each group has varying levels of compensation and job security.

Instructors at universities are generally classified into one of three categories: tenured faculty, tenure-track faculty and lecturers.

Tenured faculty are essentially guaranteed permanent employment and typically teach a 15-unit course load. Twelve of these units are taught in classrooms, and they serve on committees, complete community service and advise students to meet the remaining three units.

Tenure-track faculty are full-time instructors who are on the way to becoming tenured, and do so by performing community service and academic research during a six-year probationary period.

Leslie Bryan is a lecturer in the theater arts department at Cal State San Bernardino, which follows a quarter system. Every 10 weeks, she faces the possibility of losing her job.

“I think my nerves are just worn out right now, but usually around the eighth week, I start getting nervous about what’s going to happen next quarter,” she said. “It’s hard to plan anything long term, because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Bryan has taught at San Bernardino for 14 years, and remains non-tenured at the university. She also teaches a class in San Bernardino’s humanities department because she is teaching one theater class less than she normally does.

Like tenured faculty, lecturers are considered full-time with a course load of 15 units, which on average comes out to five classes. They also hold office hours, but are not required to serve on committees or perform community service like tenured and tenure-track faculty.

Elizabeth Hoffman, an English teacher at Cal State Long Beach, is a lecturer and a member of the California Faculty Association’s bargaining committee. She also previously served as the organization’s associate vice president.

Hoffman said the hardest aspect about her teaching status is the job uncertainty, but because lecturers are paid less, they are a cheaper option for the administration.

“It’s very hard to get a full-time load of five classes,” she said.

For this reason, lecturers may pick up classes at other campuses to make ends meet.

Hoffman has taught at multiple campuses, including Long Beach City College.

“Students don’t need faculty running between campuses. Instead of having one person divide their work up between three campuses, why not have more permanent faculty?” she said.

While picking up another class in another department has enabled Bryan to pay rent, it would still be easier for her to focus on one area, she said.

Still, even with the continuous cuts to the Cal State University system and uncertainty she faces as a lecturer, Bryan is passionate about her job.

“I love working with students. I’m going to stay there as long as I can,” she said.

AS excludes Green Party from debate

April 10, 2012

An alumnus told Associated Students they were acting like the “1 percent” for excluding the Green Party in an upcoming political debate during a heated open forum Tuesday.

“If you want to act like the 1 percent and exclude grassroots politics, that is an offense to every student and taxpayer here,” said Eugene Hernandez, a CSUN alumnus.

The student government approved the allocation of $18,410 to “Big Politics,” a three-part series designed to improve CSUN’s political engagement and to increase its national recognition.

“By hosting an event like this, sure, maybe we don’t have a football team that will make our university’s name stand out on a resume, but we can do it in other ways, and we can do it through events like this,” said William Ryder, business and economic senator.

The first part of the series is a debate between Democrats Rep. Brad Sherman and Rep. Howard Berman, and Republicans Mark Reed (an actor and businessman) and Susan Shellie (an author).

Ryder said the number of candidates was narrowed down to four to allow for a more substantive discussion and convey different viewpoints. Ryder also said candidates were selected based on who seemed most likely to move past the June primary.

Former CSUN history professor Michael Powelson was unhappy with the decision to limit the debate to the two major parties.

“There is no downside to including someone such as myself. In a democracy you allow all voices to be expressed. If you don’t allow them to be expressed, they don’t go away they just get pushed underground,” he said.

Powelson is running for Congress under the Green Party in the upcoming election.

A three-person panel, consisting of a student, faculty and alumnus will moderate the debate. It was designed to reflect the three community voices of CSUN, Ryder said.

The other two parts of the series are tentatively scheduled for on May 3 and May 15.

LADCP encourages community input in changing city streets

Participants in a mobility workshop held Saturday at LACMA highlight the streets they use for short trips, long trips, and their community's main street. (Photo by Agnes Constante)

To improve mobility in the city, the Los Angeles Department of City Planning (LADCP) held workshops Saturday to obtain feedback from citizens who commute around the area.

Data presented at the workshops revealed that the majority of Angelenos get around by driving solo, accounting for 65.7 percent of drivers. A total of 11.2 percent of them commute via public transportation, and other methods of moving around include carpooling, walking and biking.

“We know how important it is to start changing our streets from single-purpose streets to actually accommodating bicycles, pedestrians, as well as transit,” said Claire Bowin, city planner for the LADCP.

At the workshops, which were held at Van Nuys City Hall and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), multiple stations were set up displaying information about the city’s transit system, demographics and street features that could make it easier for people to move around.

“The idea is to really just get LA moving more effectively,” said Bryan Eck, mobility planner for the LADCP.

Jessica Bremner, a resident in Silver Lake who commutes to Downtown LA for work, gets around via public transit.

“I am car-less, so I walk and take the bus and Metro every single day,” she said.

Bremner said some ways the city could enhance public transportation would be to add more bus lanes and more frequent service.

As a female, Bremner said she is concerned with the safety of bus stops and shelters. She would like them lit better, as she also commutes at night.

Echo Park resident Richard France found the workshop at LACMA nice because he was able to speak with people involved in the planning process, but is skeptical about the impact of citizens’ input.

“I think there needs to be a dose of reality in all of this. There are so many constraints that all your input is going to be for nothing if (the city doesn’t) have money,” he said.

This project is currently in its early stages, but the goal is to finalize plans by 2014, according to Eck.

Two other workshops concerning this matter will be held 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Los Angeles, and 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Pacoima Neighborhood Constituent Services Center. Both workshops will take place Saturday.

http://sundial.csun.edu/2012/02/49891/

Whitman and Brown Face Off in Final Debate

Oct. 27, 2010

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman
In the final California Gubernatorial Debate, candidates Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman seized the final opportunity to convince the voting public of who should be the next governor of California.

The debate was held Oct. 12 at Dominican University in San Rafael and was moderated by Tom Brokaw, anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News.

The topics outlined for the debate were the economy and jobs, budget and pensions, immigration, and health care, but the contenders dwelt on highlighting their own track records and attacking each
other.

Attorney General Jerry Brown
The California fiscal crisis was of primary concern as each candidate offered remedies while attacking the opponent’s.

“I would do my utmost to return authority and decision making to local communities where it’s closer to the people,” Brown said. “One thing I wouldn’t do to compound our budget deficit and our tax unfairness, I wouldn’t totally eliminate the capital gains tax, which what my opponent Meg Whitman wants to do. That cap gains tax benefits mostly millionaires and billionaires and would add $5 to $10 billion to our budget deficit, and a lot of that money would have to come out of our public schools.”

Often during the debate Whitman said she would take steps to create jobs in California. She also presented her experience in business and bashed Brown, who she claimed didn’t have similar experience.

“We have got to get someone in office who knows what the conditions are for small businesses if are to grow and thrive,” Whitman said. “My track record is creating jobs. My business is creating jobs. Your business is politics. You’ve been doing this for 40 years,” she said to Brown.

With the state in a budget deficit, both candidates said they had plans to balance it. Brown proposed starting the budget process in November, returning power to the local level, and cutting the salaries of those in the governor’s office by 10 to 15 percent. Whitman said the size of the government needs to be condensed, and that the public employee pension and welfare systems need to be reformed.

Another issue the contenders were asked to share their thoughts on was Proposition 23, which would suspend the Global Warming Act of 2006, also known as AB32.

Both Whitman and Brown are in favor of AB32, but Whitman proposed a one-year moratorium to “fix it.” She said only 3 percent of jobs are green jobs, while the remaining 97 percent are jobs in various other sectors. Without the one-year freeze, Whitman said the 97 percent of jobs in other sectors could be jeopardized.

Brown said there is no study indicating 97 percent of the working class would be affected by AB32 and a freeze would create regulatory uncertainty. He said the act could actually benefit the economy.

“If you put thousands to people to work, retrofitting buildings so that they don’t burn as much energy that will put people to work here. It’ll save money to consumers … and over the last 30 years it saved Californians over $50 billion.”

Immigration was also dealt with in the hour-long debate. Brokaw posed the question first to Whitman, who said she did not know she had hired an undocumented housemaid until just recently. Brokaw asked how Whitman expects businesses to be held accountable for hiring such workers, if she did not know about one living in her home for nine years.

“This is why we need a very good e-verify system, that allows a business of every size to look at documentation and know whether it is real or not,” she said. “But we have to hold employers accountable for hiring only documented workers.”

Whitman said illegal immigration is a big issue in California, with estimates that $6 to $7 million of the budget going to services for undocumented immigrants. She also supports the creation of a temporary guest worker program and increased border security.

Brown agreed that businesses should be held accountable for hiring undocumented workers and proposed immigration reform at the federal level that would provide a path to citizenship.

The election for the governor of California will be on Nov. 2.

http://www.elvaq.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticle&ustory_id=727077e9-f7be-4b7a-90d3-e5d96d94a425

President Obama Addresses Higher Education Concerns

Sept. 29, 2010

President Barack Obama participates in a conference call with college and university student-journalists in the Oval Office, Sept. 27, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama hosted a teleconference Monday morning with student journalists from colleges and universities across the nation to discuss steps his administration has taken to address higher education concerns of young Americans.

In his opening remarks, the president said that the United States has fallen behind in education.

“In a single generation we’ve fallen first to 12th in college graduation rates for young adults,” he said. “And if we’re serious about building a stronger economy, making sure we succeed in the 21st century, then the single most important step we can take, is to make sure that every young person gets the best education possible. …”

In Obama’s 2009 State of the Union address he proposed that by 2020, the United States would once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

On Monday he discussed the policies his administration is planning to implement, as well as those that have already been implemented, to reach this goal.

One of the steps the president is taking to make education more available to students is by changing the way federal student loans are administered.

“Instead of handing over $60 billion in unwarranted subsidies to big banks, that were essentially getting this money to fulfill the loans that were guaranteed by the federal government, we’re redirecting that money so that it goes directly to students,” he said. “And that’s allowing us to support community colleges and make college more affordable for nearly 8 million students and families.”

The passage of the Affordable Health Care Act earlier this year is also expected to help students, as it allows young adults to remain under their parents’ health care plans until the age of 26.

Another step the Obama administration is taking is to ensure that higher education creates a workforce that will be ready for new jobs in the future. Obama said that community colleges will play a crucial role in this step and has planned a first-ever White House summit on community colleges for next week.

“That way stakeholders are going to be able to discuss how community colleges can make sure we’ve got the most educated workforce in the world in relevant subjects that help people get jobs,” he said.

The third step of the higher education strategy is to make sure more students graduate from college.

The president said that more than one third of the nation’s college students and more than one half of minority students fail to obtain a degree even
after six years.

“And that’s a waste of potential, particularly if folks are racking up big debt and then they don’t even get the degree at the end – they still have to pay back that debt, but they’re not in a stronger position to be able to service it.”

Obama said that while it is ultimately up to students to finish school, his administration can help in eliminating certain barriers, particularly for students who attend school while working or raising families.

“So that’s why I’ve long proposed what I call a college access and completion fund, which would develop, implement and evaluate new approaches to improving college success and completion, especially for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds,” he said.

The administration is also ensuring that younger veterans receive educational support with a post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

The president has included undocumented students in his plan for a more accessible higher education and said that the DREAM Act needs to be passed.

“Some of you are probably aware this is important legislation that will stop punishing young people who – their parents brought them here; they may not have been documented, but they’ve for all intents and purposes grown up as American young people,” the president said.

The DREAM Act would allow these students to obtain legal status by continuing with their higher education or serving in the U.S. armed forces.

President Obama entertained questions from four student journalists upon explaining the gist of his higher education strategy.

Colin Daileda from Radford University in Virginia asked what other steps the president is taking to help students attain a level of stability after college, apart from the Affordable Health Care Act.

“The key is for us to keep on improving the economy, and that’s going to be my number one priority over the next several years,” Obama said. “If … we’re investing in small businesses so they can open their doors and hire more workers, if we’re … investing in clean energy – all those things are going to open up new opportunities for young people with skills and talent for the future.”

In subsequent questions, the president clarified other ways in which it would be easier for young Americans to obtain a higher education.

In modifying the way federal loans are administered, student graduates will not be required to pay more than 10 percent of their salaries per month to fulfill their loans. Additionally, graduates who enter public service will be forgiven any remaining student debt after 10 years as long as they keep up with their payments.

Although young adults can now stay under their parents’ health care until the age of 26, this provision of the Affordable Health Care Act assumes that the person’s employer does not offer health care. Should an employer provide health care for a young adult, this person cannot opt to be under his or her parents’ plan instead, and must accept the employer’s offer.

Obama closed by encouraging young adults to remain optimistic about the future.

“I know we’ve gone through a tough time these last two years. And I do worry sometimes that young folks, having grown up or come of age in difficult economic times, start feeling as if their horizons have to be lowered and they’ve got to set their sights a little bit lower than their parents or their grandparents. And I just want to remind people that you guys all have enormous challenges that you’re going to have to face, but you continue to live in the most vibrant, most dynamic, wealthiest nation on Earth.”

He added that in order to overcome the obstacles faced by today’s generation, students should maintain an awareness of politics and actively take part.

“We’ve got an election coming up. I want everybody to be well informed and to participate. If you do, then I feel very optimistic about the country’s future.”

http://www.elvaq.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticle&ustory_id=842d60f7-2ba6-4410-bef6-e77d74195d48