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Preparing for El Niño

As the sun grilled officials on the steps of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas urged residents to use the opportunity to prepare for upcoming storms.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas was joined by Assessor Jeffrey Prang, Fire Chief Daryl Osby, Insurance Commissioners, the Office of Emergency Management, and the Department of Public Works to outline services being provided by the county to help residents prepare for the storm system known as El Niño.

“We are asking our citizens to partner with us to insure they are properly trained and prepared for a potential disaster or flood or the impact of El Nino,” Fire Chief Osby said.

Eric Bauman, a commissioner serving on the Los Angeles County Insurance Commission provided residents with ten tips for preparing for adequate flood insurance.

“This year with the onset of El Niño we thought it was very important that consumers knew how to prepare and how to understand what their insurance does and doesn’t provide them in terms of protection in the event they have damage from El Niño,” said Bauman.

According to the National Flood Insurance program, just two inches of flood water in a home can cost an average of $12,000 to clean as the water subsides.

The preparation by the county included its recent activation of its Emergency Operations Center to support County and local jurisdictions, agencies and community organizations preparing for and responding to the winter’s storms wrought by El Niño.

The County has also opened additional winter shelters, including one with 207 beds at Athens Park on 12603 S. Broadway in Los Angeles, and 100 beds in Del Aire at 12601 S. Isis Avenue in Hawthorne. Meanwhile, Sheriff’s deputies and other workers have been deployed to warn those staying in homeless encampments along riverbanks about heightened flood risks, while firefighters and other emergency personnel have evacuated some homes near burn areas because of landslide danger.

“This is part of a comprehensive county plan to combat homelessness, to rescue those individuals who are currently defined by such circumstances, and to move preventively to cause others not to fall into such tragic circumstances,” the Supervisor said.

Los Angeles County residents and businesses, including persons with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, may call 211 LA County for emergency preparedness information, and other referral services. They can also click on http://www.lacounty.gov/elnino to sign up for emergency notifications, download survival guides, report hazards, and even learn how to apply for disaster loans.

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Photo Credit: LA County FIre Department

Seeking Justice for Marquise Lawrence

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A $10,000 reward is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the murder of Marquise Lawrence in Compton on March 18, 2015.

The Board of Supervisors issued the reward, acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

“Marquise Lawrence was known to the community as a hard-working, kind-hearted individual and devoted father,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said in the motion. “The shock and senselessness of this tragedy has left his family devastated.”

Marquise (1)“Help us find the person responsible so we can get some closure,” Marquise’s grandmother, Joann Lawrence-Haynes, said in a news conference to appeal for the public’s help. “Marquise was a good kid, a fine young man who cared about his family.”

Marquise was a 26-year-old EMT hoping to become a firefighter. At the time of his death, he taking classes at El Camino College and working two jobs to support his girlfriend and their then seven month-old daughter.

Marquise’s own father was also murdered when Marquise was 8 – a case that also remains unsolved.

“We hope this reward will be enough to encourage someone to help us catch the person who did this to Marquise and bring them to justice,” Marquise’s stepfather, Keith Haynes, said.

Marquise was driving eastbound on Willowbrook Avenue near Johnson Street around 5 p.m. on March 18, 2015 when he was struck by gunfire from an SUV going in the opposite direction.

Suffering from a gunshot wound, Marquise crashed his sedan into a concrete barrier that separated the street from Metro Blue Line railroad tracks.  He died of his injuries at St. Francis Medical Center.

The suspect is described as a heavy-set African American man in his 20’s, with an “Afro” hairstyle about 2-3 inches long. He escaped in a 1990’s blue Chevy Suburban, last seen heading west on Johnson Street and then north on Acacia Avenue.

The Sheriff’s Department hopes witnesses will come forward and provide information to Homicide Detective Steve Blagg or Sgt. Guillermo Morales at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call CrimeStoppers at (800) 222-TIPS, or texting the letters TIPLA plus the tip to CRIMES (274637) or using the website: http://lacrimestoppers.org.

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Board Approves Homeless Initiative

From hopelessness to hope—four stories from Los Angeles County Annual Report on Vimeo.

In a historic vote, the Board of Supervisors approved the most comprehensive, collaborative and far-reaching action plan ever to be undertaken to address the crisis of homelessness in Los Angeles County.

With more than 44,000 men, women and children living on the streets or in temporary shelters on any given night, the County Homeless Initiative laid out 47 strategies that aim to:

  • Prevent homelessness
  • Subsidize housing costs
  • Increase income
  • Provide case management and services
  • Create a coordinated system
  • Increase affordable housing.

IMG_1883A motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, also approved by the Board, underscored the need to allocate funding on the basis of need. About a third of the County’s homeless population live in the Second District.

“This motion reaffirms Board policy for the last three years that homeless investments should be needs-based,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

“The gravity of the crisis is profound and if we fail to act now, the problem will be compounded,” he added. “Urgency has to be the mantra of the day.”

IMG_1873The Board created the Homeless Initiative in August 2015 with a mandate to produce a set of strategies that would not only provide the homeless with housing and other services, but also prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. It convened 18 meetings, or policy summits, involving scores of experts, public and private stakeholders and community partners throughout the 88 cities that make up the County.

“It is imperative that we continue to have leadership at the helm, with the full backing of the County, steering us towards our ultimate goal: a community where homelessness is rare and brief,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Now we must turn our attention to how we sustain our efforts – through ongoing revenue streams – in the fight against homelessness.” Click here for full text of his remarks.

IMG_1836About a dozen of the Homeless Initiative strategies are to be implemented by June 30, or Phase 1, including enhancing the emergency shelter system and expanding rapid-rehousing programs.

Implementation of Phase 2 is to begin in the second half of 2016, while Phase 3 will kick off in 2017.

Aside from stressing that funding should be needs-based, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ motion sought to strength partnerships with faith organizations wanting to help the homeless, accelerate the development of affordable and permanent supportive housing by using prefab construction techniques; and other recommendations. image2

Music Takes Youth from South LA to Super Bowl

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Photo Provided by LA Phil

The talented kids of Youth Orchestra Los Angeles came home to a hero’s welcome after sharing the stage with Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars at the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show.

image1 (1)Their proud families and TV cameras were among throngs of people who gathered at the Walt Disney Concert Hall to await their return from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Parents and other well-wishers greeted them with cheers, banners and bouquets of flowers as soon as they disembarked from their tour bus.

Led by LA Phil Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, YOLA is a program that provides free instruments, intensive musical training and academic support to about 700 students, ages 6-18, from underserved neighborhoods in South Los Angeles, East Los Angeles and the Rampart DistricScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 11.46.08 AM t.

More than 40 students from YOLA at EXPO – Exposition Park – were selected to perform at Super Bowl 50. The sons and daughters of working class parents in South Los Angeles played violins, cellos, tubas and other instruments as Coldplay’s Chris Martin sang “Viva La Vida” and other hits before an audience of about 112 million viewers — the third most watched broadcast in US television history.

image3 (1)“This is historic,” Dudamel told the students during their homecoming celebration at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. “In time, you will say, ‘Yes, I was there.’”

On behalf of the Board of Supervisors, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas presented each of the students a scroll congratulating them on their extraordinary achievement.

“You are heroes because you represented your families, YOLA, and the County of Los Angeles well – not only to the state of California and the United States, but to the world,” he said. “You are role models to youth around the globe, showing them that they, too, can achieve their dreams.”

Taking Care of Our Seniors

“You are convened to help us do lead thinking,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said before a dozen health care leaders gathered at the Exposition Park Constituent Service Center to brainstorm ways to improve medical care for older patients.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks before a dozen health care leaders gathered at the Exposition Park Constituent Service Center

With 15% of the population of the United States over 65 years of age, the data projects that by 2030, that will rise to 20%.

“Because seniors represent a growing segment of our population, we need to be concerned about what is going on with them,” the Supervisor said.

Experts claim that older adults are more vulnerable to the side effects of medications. It is estimated that close to half of older adults develop a confusional state called “delirium” when admitted to the hospital, and the rate may be as high as 75%, for those in the intensive care unit. Many patients who become overmedicated and delirious in the hospital are unable to return immediately to their homes, and may end up in nursing facilities, where they might become even more confused and unable to fully recover.

Loretta Jones, a community member and Founder of Healthy African American Families.

The brainstorming focused on how to reduce overmedication of the elderly in Los Angeles County hospitals and how to prevent seniors from having to enter the hospital altogether.

Many seniors in the county have in-home care, but some are resistant to having their medication monitored by in-home care workers.

“To me, it’s an imposition to have someone come to my house and tell me what to do,” said Loretta Jones, a community member and Founder of Healthy African American Families.

Dr. Monika Soni, the primary care chief at Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center.

Other medical facilities, such as the Martin Luther King Outpatient Center, are working hard to keep seniors out of the hospital by providing comprehensive outpatient care.

“We are primarily an outpatient center and our goal is to keep people out of the hospital,” said Dr. Monika Soni, the primary care chief at Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center. “What we’re really focusing on is building up the primary care medical home.”