Tony Mendoza resigns from California Senate

DOWNEY – California State Sen. Tony Mendoza, accused of sexual misconduct by several women and facing expulsion from the Senate, resigned from the legislature Thursday. 

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His resignation comes just days after a Senate investigation found that Mendoza “more likely than not” engaged in unwanted flirtatious or sexually suggestive behavior with female staffers and interns. 

Late Wednesday, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) introduced legislation to expel Mendoza from the Senate. No member of the California Legislature has been expelled since 1905.

Before the legislature could vote on the resolution, Mendoza resigned. 

“I shall resign my position as Senator with immediate effect as it is clear that Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon will not rest until he has my head on a platter to convince the #MeToo movement of his ‘sincerity’ in supporting the #MeToo cause,” Mendoza wrote in a letter. 

Although he resigned, Mendoza said he may still run to reclaim the seat later this year. 

“I intend to canvas my district to determine my candidacy for the Senate this year,” Mendoza said. 

The two-month investigation into Mendoza’s behavior was conducted by the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP at the request of the Rules Committee of the California State Senate in response to sexual misconduct allegations against Mendoza, who has denied the charges. A senate investigation found that embattled state Sen. Tony Mendoza “more likely than not” engaged in unwanted flirtatious or sexually suggestive behavior with female staffers and interns. 

Late Wednesday, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) introduced legislation to expel Mendoza from the senate, the L.A. Times reported. No member of the California Legislature has been expelled since 1905.

The two-month investigation was conducted by the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP at the request of the Rules Committee of the California State Senate in response to sexual misconduct allegations against Mendoza, who has denied the charges. 

In a report revealing its findings, the law firm said it conducted 51 interviews with 47 witnesses. The report is labeled confidential but a copy was received by the Patriot.

“In the course of the investigation, witnesses we interviewed described multiple instances in which Mendoza engaged in a pattern of unwelcome flirtation and sexually suggestive behavior towards several female staff members and other women he interacted with at the Capitol,” the report states. “These incidents ranged from the 2007-2008 legislative session when Mendoza was in the Assembly, to the 2017-2018 session when he was in the Senate. 

“Many current and former staff members, particularly those in his District office, said they had neither witnessed nor heard of any inappropriate behavior by Senator Mendoza. It appears based on these interviews that he behaved appropriately and professionally towards female staff while he was in his District. However, we received reports of Mendoza engaging in inappropriate behavior while in Sacramento or on overnight trips.

“Over the course of the investigation, six women stated they personally experienced unwanted flirtatious or sexually suggestive behavior by Mendoza. Four of these women were working for Mendoza as staff members, interns, or fellows at the time of his conduct. None of these women alleged that they had a sexual relationship with Mendoza or that he had been physically aggressive or sexually crude towards them. However, the recipients of this unwelcome behavior understood that Mendoza was suggesting sexual contact. 

“Although none of the women reported that Mendoza explicitly threatened them or offered career benefits in exchange for sexual favors, the subordinate employees believed that complaining about his conduct could put their careers at risk.” 

Investigators found it “more likely than not” that in 2007, Mendoza was sexually suggestive with a female staff member, including asking her to share a room with him at an event in Hawaii. The staff member directly asked Mendoza to stop suggesting a sexual relationship and he “subsequently conformed his behavior.”

The investigation found that in 2008, Mendoza “more likely than not” was inappropriate with a 19-year-old intern who was staying in an adjoining room at the Democratic California Convention. Mendoza offered and drank alcoholic drinks with the woman in his hotel suite and asked her questions about her dating life, the report says. 

In 2010, Mendoza invited a female staff member to dinner or drinks and kissed her on the cheek after driving her home. The incident prompted an Assembly Human Resources representative to counsel Mendoza on his behavior. 

Investigators also discovered other incidents of sexually suggestive behavior: 

In 2014, Mendoza “more likely than not” was flirtatious with a Senate Fellow in his office, who was in her early twenties. Mendoza suggested she could rent a spare room in his house; suggested they could reserve just one room for an overnight event; invited her to come to his house at night under the guise of reviewing her resume despite having little intention of hiring her; and suggested they could go out to dinner or a movie. 

In 2015, Mendoza likely invited a different Fellow working in another legislator’s office to visit him at his home. In another incident that same year, Mendoza allegedly suggested to a lobbyist that they go out to dinner and asked what type of men she liked. 

Mendoza has consistently denied acting inappropriately. In a statement Tuesday, he criticized the Senate Rules Committee for shutting him out of the investigation process. 

“This inability to view and understand the accusations in a timely fashion rubs across the grain of fairness, impartiality and ultimately justice,” he said. 

“This government body must rise above and not be swayed by the court of public opinion, but rather, influenced to arrive at a conclusion based on facts and one of the basic tenants of our society, a due process that allows for a complete and thorough investigation procedure that then allows the accused to view and respond to the accusations in a timely manner,” Mendoza added.

“Unless we adhere to the pillar of fairness that serves as a key anchor of our American system of justice, we are condemned to repeating the mistakes of our past when due process was nothing more than a legal luxury reserved only for the well-heeled or mere legal folly.”

Bill Bruner dies at age 79

DOWNEY – William “Bill” D Bruner, 79, died Feb. 16 peacefully at his home in Anaheim, surrounded by family. 

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Bill was born Nov. 6, 1938 in Huntington Park where he lived through his high school years, graduating from Huntington Park High School. 

Bill then called Downey his home for the majority of his life where he would raise his three children and met his wife of 34 years, Glenda. 

He is survived by his son Clark; two daughters, Jill and Julie; and stepchildren Scott, Terri and Tracy, along with 16 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. 

A Celebration of Life ceremony will be held at Downey Memorial Christian Church on March 10 at 2 p.m. 

Reading and Rhythm helps literacy in at-risk youth

DOWNEY - A local nonprofit company is using music and rhythm to aid in literacy.

Lead by Drumming for Your Life President Steven Angel, the Reading and Rhythm program works with at-risk youth, kids with learning disabilities, and “anybody who’s falling behind” on their literacy.  

Photo by Alex Dominguez

Photo by Alex Dominguez

“I started it in 2001; we’ve probably pre and post-tested 4-5,000 kids over the years,” said Angel. “The Reading and Rhythm Program…this is the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; it’s through a contract with them…this is to work with at-risk youth in juvenile halls.”

Recently, the program has been utilized inside Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall.

“Our program is multi-sensory; what that means is it works on the mind and the body,” said Angel. “A lot of these kids, some of their issues have to do with anxiety.

“Everyone has what we call the ‘doubtful internal voice;’ that’s the voice that says ‘I can’t do this, I’m stupid, I’m afraid, I’m this,’ any voice that is counter to the desire. That voice with kids in the, say juvenile detention camps - those kids that have fallen really behind – dominates their mind…we’re working to transform that voice.”

The program runs for six weeks, bi-weekly for 60 minutes per class led by a certified Reading and Rhythm facilitator. Sessions begin with group drumming exercises that are meant to engage students physiologically, cognitively and emotionally. Students then read aloud to a rhythmic beat played by the facilitator.

The program concludes with assessments of each student.

“It’s a whole system that we’ve created,” said Angel. “The program we’re doing at Los Padrinos, we just tested the kids; some of these kids went up over 100 percent in their reading…really dramatic shifts in their reading.”

Angel says that he hopes the program will keep expanding, potentially including work to be done within Downey.

“I think this is where we’re at, because we are capable of tremendous expansion,” said Angel. “We can train regular teachers to do this…that’s our goal, just in the immediate community, is to be able to do outreach.”

Angel says awareness and willingness is a “big thing” in that goal becoming a reality.

“We have the capacity, it’s just willingness and capital,” said Angel. “We have talked to the council, we have volunteers from the community here that work for us…we have started the conversation…I know we’re still ahead of the curve, but like I said the neuroscience is out there... We have a lot of support, but again it’s getting the people in the community to take a look at the data, look at what we’re doing and say ‘ok, this is the future, this where things are heading.’”

For more information, call 562-904-6775.

Assemblymember denies charges she pressured employees to play spin the bottle

DOWNEY – Assemblymember Cristina Garcia is denying new allegations that she presided over a “toxic” office in Sacramento, drinking alcohol during work hours and pressuring staff members to play spin the bottle. 

David John Kernick, who worked for Garcia for five months in 2014, made the allegations last week in a formal complaint to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. 
Kernick claims he was fired after objecting to playing spin the bottle after a political fundraiser. 

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In his complaint, Kernick says Garcia and about six other people were sitting on the floor inside a hotel room after a night of heavy drinking. That’s when Garcia pushed for a game of spin the bottle, in which participants spin a bottle on the floor and kiss whoever the bottle points to. 

“It was definitely uncomfortable,” Kernick told Politico. “But I realized it’s different for a man than for a woman...You know it’s inappropriate, but at the same time you may wonder, ‘How many women do you work for that act like that? You think, ‘Maybe she’s just really cool.’”
Kernick said the staff members in attendance ignored Garcia’s prompts and the game never materialized. 

Kernick and three other anonymous staff members went to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon last week, asserting that Garcia’s office was a “toxic” environment with heavy drinking and sexually charged meetings. 

Garcia openly spoke of her sex life, they alleged. The four staffers described being pressured to drink at late-night events and “team-building” events where mimosas were served. 

In a statement, Garcia denied the latest charges, calling them “a concerted effort to discredit my person and record as a legislator.”

“Over the last weeks there have been several claims accusing me of inappropriate conduct in my role as a California State legislator,” Garcia said. “In each case, these accusations are simply not true and are inconsistent with my personal value system and how I seek to conduct myself as an elected official. 

“I look forward to a timely conclusion of the Rules Committee investigation, and I look forward to returning to the legislature to continue my advocacy for the people of my district, for immigrants, and women. 

“I ask my supporters to not be deterred, and know that our fight for human dignity and justice will continue.”

Garcia went on unpaid leave earlier this month after initial allegations that she groped a male staffer and bragged about having sex in her office with other legislators.

Downey, Warren winter sports recaps

DOWNEY – The Downey High School girls’ basketball team improved their overall record to 23-5 after winning their first two games in the C.I.F. Division 2A playoffs. 

The Lady Vikings defeated Murrieta Valley at Downey, 67-26, on 2/15 in the first round and defeated Westminster at Westminster, 52-39, on 2/17 in the second round. 

Downey played Arroyo Valley (25-2, 10-0) of San Bernardino at Downey on Wednesday (score unavailable at press time). The Lady Vikings will play the winner of the Righetti/Summit game in the semi-finals if they defeated Arroyo Valley on Wednesday.

 

DOWNEY GIRLS SOCCER: The Downey High School girls’ soccer team saw their season come to an end when they were defeated by Mayfair, 3-0, on 2/15 in the first round of the C.I.F. Division 3 playoffs. 

The Lady Vikings conclude their season with an overall record of 12-7-4 and a S.G.V.L. record of 7-2-1. Downey finished San Gabriel Valley League play in second place behind cross-town rival Warren.

 

DOWNEY GIRLS WATER POLO: The Downey High School girls’ water polo team improved to 25-5 after winning their first three games in the C.I.F. Division 5 playoffs. 

The Lady Vikings defeated Hillcrest of Riverside at Downey, 16-2, on 2/14 in the first round, defeated Beaumont at Beaumont 13-8 on 2/15 in the second round and defeated Santa Ana Valley at Downey, 12-7, on 2/17 in the third round. 

Downey hosted Sunny Hills at Downey on Wednesday (score unavailable at press time). The Lady Vikings will play the winner of the Diamond Bar/Sherman Oaks of Notre Dame game in the semi-final round if they defeated Sunny Hills Wednesday. 

 

WARREN GIRLS BASKETBALL: The Warren High School girls’ basketball team improved their overall record to 17-10 after winning their first two games in the C.I.F. Division 3AA playoffs. 

The Lady Bears defeated St. Joseph’s of Lakewood at St. Joseph’s, 52-45, on 2/15 and defeated Corona del Mar at Corona del Mar, 47-20, on 2/17.

Warren hosted Long Beach Wilson at Warren on Wednesday in the third round (score unavailable at press time). The Lady Bears will play the winner of the Culver City/Colony game tomorrow if they defeated Long Beach Wilson on Wednesday.

 

WARREN GIRLS WATER POLO: The Warren High School girls’ water polo team saw their season come to an end in the first round of the C.I.F. Division 3 playoffs. 

The Lady Bears defeated Villa Park at Warren, 9-8, on 2/14 in the wild card round and were then defeated by Long Beach Wilson at Long Beach Wilson, 13-8, on 2/15 in the first round. 
Warren concludes its season with an overall record of 13-17 and a S.G.V.L. record of 4-1. Warren finished second in league play behind cross-town rival Downey.

 

WARREN GIRLS SOCCER: The Warren High School girls’ soccer team saw their season come to an end on Tuesday in the second round of the C.I.F. Division 2 playoffs. 

Warren finished its season with an overall record of 21-3 and a S.G.V.L. record of 10-0, including 10 shutouts. The Lady Bears defeated Rosary Academy, 0-0, 3-0 PK’s at Warren on 2/15 and were defeated by San Luis Obispo, 2-1, at Warren on Tuesday.    
 

DOWNEY BOYS SOCCER: The Downey High School boys’ soccer team defeated Fountain Valley at Downey, 1-0, on 2/16 in the first round of the C.I.F. Division 1 playoffs. 

The Vikings traveled to Mission Viejo on Wednesday for their second-round game against the Diablos (score unavailable at press time). If Downey wins, they will play the winner of the Santa Ana/Loyola game tomorrow.

 

DOWNEY WRESTLING: The Downey High School wrestling team traveled to Beaumont High School on Saturday to compete in the 2018 C.I.F. Northern Division Individual championships. 

The Vikings had seven wrestlers place in the top eight of their respective weight classes and five wrestlers advanced to the Master’s Meet at Citizen’s Bank Arena in Ontario this weekend. Downey placed second overall with a total of 164.5 points behind C.I.F. champion Citrus Hill, who finished first with 203 points.

Downey’s Jonathan Prata defeated Robert Casanave of Bonita by pin at the 3:55 mark of the second period to become the 106-pound C.I.F. champion. Dilan Ajtun defeated Giancarlo Facio of San Jacinto by pin at the 3:33 mark of the second period to become the 113-pound C.I.F. champion. Roland Dominguez was defeated by Mohammed Shalabi of Bloomington 6-4 to place second at 120 pounds.

Downey’s Matthew Morales defeated Joshua Mendoza of Warren 9-4 to become the 126-pound C.I.F. champion. Sergio Smith defeated Noe Salcedo of Gahr, 7-3, to place seventh at 145 pounds and Adrian Guerra defeated Arturo Ojeda of San Jacinto, 5-1, to place third at 220 pounds. Downey’s Elias Velasco was defeated by Chris Rosa of California, 3-0, to place eighth at 285 pounds.
 

WARREN BOYS BASKETBALL: The Warren High School boys’ basketball team saw their season come to an end against St. Paul at St. Paul, 73-59, in the first round of the C.I.F. Division 1 Playoffs on 2/14. 

The Bears finished their season with an overall record of 15-11 and a S.G.V.L. record of 6-4. The Bears finished league play in third place behind Dominguez and Lynwood, respectively.

 

WARREN BOYS SOCCER: The Warren High School boys’ soccer team improved their overall record to 11-7-4 with their C.I.F. Division 1 first round win against Harvard-Westlake at Warren on 2/16. 

The Bears traveled to Servite (17-2-2) on Wednesday for their second-round game against the Friars (score unavailable at press time). The Bears will play the winner of the San Clemente/Palos Verdes game tomorrow if they defeated Servite on Wednesday.

 

WARREN WRESTLING: The Warren High School wrestling team traveled to Beaumont High School on Saturday to compete in the 2018 C.I.F. Northern Division Individual championships. 

The Bears had six wrestlers place in the top eight of their respective weight classes and five advanced to the Master’s Meet tomorrow at Citizen’s Bank Arena in Ontario. Warren placed seventh overall with a total of 131 points behind C.I.F. champion Citrus Hill, with 203.

Warren’s Carlos Vasquez placed sixth at 106 pounds after he was pinned by Miguel Angulo of Coachella Valley at the 4:06 mark of the third period. Salvader Alvarez placed fourth at 113 pounds after he was defeated by Sebastian Cruz of Citrus Hill 4-2 and Joshua Mendoza placed second at 126 pounds after he was defeated by Matthew Morales of Downey 9-4.

Warren’s Matthew Lopez placed second at 132 pounds after he was defeated by Anthony Miranda of Colton, 12-2, and Alan Dillon placed fourth at 145 pounds after he was defeated by Carlos Mejia of Citrus Hill, 8-0. Carlos Durazo placed second at 152 pounds after he was defeated by Steven Dourseau of Citrus Hill, 10-0. 
 

Eugenia Gil, past president of Downey Association of Realtors, passes away

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DOWNEY -- Eugenia Gil was born in Aguacate, Cuba on Nov. 15, 1944. 

She dedicated countless hours volunteering for Alpha 66, a Cuban organization, as well as for PTA and all DUSD schools her children attended. 

She was a past president of the Downey Association of Realtors and past president of the Woman’s Council of Realtors. She also held various leadership positions for organizations such as the California Association of Realtors. 

Eugenia spent her last 17 years as a Disneyland cast member, where she enjoyed meeting people from around the world. 

She died Feb. 4 surrounded by loved ones. 

She is survived by her children Mary Gil-Fernandez, Michelle Gil and Nelson Gil, son in law Manuel Fernandez, ten grandchildren: Juliet, Jennifer, Manuel Jr, Jessica, Gabrielle, Justin, Lauren, Nelson III, Jordan and Bella, six great grandchildren: Kristin, Dylan, Joshua, Manuel III, Sebastian and Penelope. She is also survived by her brother Carlos Rodriguez and her boyfriend of 13 years, Stan Rymsza. 

She was preceded in death by her parents Ceferino and Angela Rodriguez, godparents Ildefonso and Faustina Sosa, brother Pedro Rodriguez and son in law David Amatisto.

Services will be held Feb. 23 at 9 a.m. at Rose Hills Memorial Chapel in Whittier, followed by a Celebration of Life reception from 1-6:30 p.m. at St. Raymond’s Catholic Church in Downey.
 

Shared Stories: A Definitive Diagnosis

Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns

By Vickie Williams

In 2015, I was fortunate to have met Ginger Lane in my Norwalk Seniors Memoirs Class. She approached me after I read a story and asked, “Do you have dysphonia, muscles spasms, when you speak?” 

“Yes,” I responded, “sometimes.” I have suffered from a speech impediment for over 40 years. Having to read my stories out loud in class is very stressful, and my disfluency becomes more apparent. Answering the phone, having to say my name, and introductions to strangers are often my biggest challenges.  

My voice can sound breathy, broken, and scattered.  Words with the consonants S, P, V and H can be particularly troublesome.  

My conversation with Ginger was revelatory.  She also had a speech disorder, called adductor spasmodic dysphonia, where the vocal folds slam together, tighten, and stiffen. The spasms make it difficult for the vocal cords to vibrate and produce sounds.  The speech sounds choppy, strained, and strangled. 

Ginger understood not only the mechanics, but also my emotional and mental struggles to speak, especially before an audience. My shoulders relaxed and my mind was at ease when I spoke to her. 

She recommended that I consult an ear, nose, and throat specialist, which I had never done before. Ginger’s suggestion made a difference, and I was sorry I never got an opportunity to thank her for it.

I had graduated from college and was working as a pharmacist when I sought medical help for my difficulties. In the early eighties, my general practitioner diagnosed me as having a stutterer’s behavior. My world turned upside down. My self-esteem plummeted. 

The genesis of my condition was a mystery. At that time, my doctor recommended speech therapy and I followed through, never questioning if his assessment was correct. I spent $5,000 out of my pocket for one year because I did not have a stroke, Parkinson's or brain trauma, the criteria necessary for insurance coverage. 

Finding Ways to Cope

Progress was slow. I did see improvement, but not to my satisfaction. My fluency was up and down like a roller coaster. My mind was inundated with fear, dread, and terror when my speech went awry. I hyperventilated and my heart pounded fiercely when answering the phone or speaking in public places, on and off my job. 

My speech raised eyebrows. It drew a plethora of reactions. I have been subjected to questions like, “Are you drunk or on drugs?” “Are you having a seizure?” “Why are you laughing,” or “what’s so funny?”  One person mimicked me and told me I was sexy over the microphone on my job.

My intelligence was questioned and I received hostile looks. Impatience and intolerance by others showed up when my words were slow coming out of my mouth.

One doctor hung up on me, then called me back and asked if I had a speech impediment. When I told him yes, he apologized.

It was a dizzying journey. I felt like a dog unsuccessfully chasing its tail. The more I tried to control my speech the more I lost control of it. At times, I thought I was losing my mind.
Somehow I managed, never missing a day at work.  I made no excuses and kept pushing through my emotions and spasms. I felt embarrassed and lamented my faltering speech. I lost my spunk and spontaneity.

One time another pharmacist, whom I called for a copy of a prescription, asked me, “Are you high or drunk?”

My words sputtered before I got a head of steam to respond. “I have a speech impediment. I am a stutterer.” 

“Give me your phone number and let me call you back!” he demanded.

I struggled giving the number. My vocals did not cooperate. When he called back, my technician, who had returned from break, answered the phone and reiterated that I was the pharmacist and a stutterer.

His pharmacy was down the street from where I worked. I decided I wanted to let him see my eyes and realize I was not under the influence. It was a Saturday evening. I knew that his pharmacy closed at 6 p.m., an hour later than mine.  

At 5 p.m., after closing the pharmacy, I paid him a visit. I waited until he finished with his customers then approached the counter gingerly. No one was present but him and me. 

“May I speak with you for a moment,” I said.  “I am the pharmacist you spoke with earlier and you thought I was under the influence. Look me in my eyes. I want you to see I am not high. I have a speech impediment. I don’t do drugs and I am not drunk.”

I looked deep into his eyes and I did not flinch or stutter. “I don’t need any trouble or you reporting false information to the state board,” I told him. I pinched myself and asked him to pinch me. He looked stung and refrained. 

“The reason I want you to pinch me is because I am as human as you are.” His eyes widened. “It is a known fact one of the most difficult tasks for a stutterer is to speak on the telephone. When I make good eye contact, I am more fluent.”  

He stood at attention and listened, looking mystified and in disbelief.

“I am so sorry.  I misunderstood,” he apologized.

“Thank you for your time,” I replied and I walked away like a proud peacock. I celebrated singing with the radio blasting, as I drove home. It was a victory to me. I felt empowered.

While my challenges were many, I did not struggle alone. I must give a shout out to my co-workers in Downey. They were patient, protective, and professional. They came to my rescue answering the phone, sometimes explaining my speech. They showed me empathy.  I withstood frowns, doubters, questions, and haters. 

I had been struggling with this disability for almost 40 years when I first met Ginger and acted on her suggestion that I consult with an ENT specialist. I struck gold with this doctor. He listened, observed, and answered my questions. He validated my feedback and discussion of my experiences. His willingness to articulate each step of the evaluation process was reassuring

A flexible fiberoptic scope placed through my nose and down the back of my throat allowed the doctor to view my voice box while I was speaking. The spasms appeared on a monitor. 

The doctor confirmed that I suffered from a condition known as abductor spasmodic dysphonia. I was relieved to know it was not psychogenic, but a neurological disorder affecting the voice muscles in the larynx causing the widening of the vocal cords and preventing them from vibrating properly to produce sound, as air escapes from the lungs during speech.  Stress, he said, may exacerbate the spasms.

The Trial

The specialist questioned if I had a trauma or remembered a triggering event. My mind flashed back to Destrehan, Louisiana in 1975 when I was attending Xavier University in New Orleans. 

Five buses of students, including me, rode to the courthouse where Gary Tyler, a 16-year-old high school junior, was on trial for murdering Timothy Weber, a 13-year-old white boy, during an intense protest in 1974 by whites opposed to school integration.

Destrehan was known to be KKK territory, and Gary and his fellow black students were taunted with racial slurs, epithets, and hostility. On the day Timothy Weber was shot, Gary was on the bus, leaving school, when a shot rang out in the white crowd. Timothy Weber died.  

The physical evidence against Gary was very questionable – the bus driver said he thought the shot came from outside, the police searched the bus for over an hour before saying they found a gun, and later it was determined that the gun had been stolen from the police evidence room. Gary was sentenced to death by an all-white jury.

As a student at Xavier University, I had joined the Free Gary Tyler Committee. As our buses slowly rolled into Destrehan to support Gary during his trial, hard hat construction workers were lying on top of buildings with loaded guns pointed at our buses.

A civil rights march in support of Gary Tyler in 1976. Courtesy FreeGaryTyler.com

A civil rights march in support of Gary Tyler in 1976. Courtesy FreeGaryTyler.com

The scene was daunting. I was scared out of my wits. Assigned to go into the courtroom to take notes and report to the overflow of students waiting outside, fear paralyzed me. I could not get a whisper out.  

From the day of the trial, my speech was broken. It got progressively worse, before getting better. Stress was a factor.  

My family was baffled and so was I. It was a sensitive issue. Mother looked bewildered when I spoke. I know her heart was bleeding for me. She was very patient, never critical.  

My sister Jo encouraged me to slow down when I spoke. “It’s okay, Baby Girl, you can do it.” Other family members reacted differently.

Despite all of this, I finished school, passed my state boards, and became licensed in two states. I pounded the pavement for a job and embarked on a career as a medical professional. 

Perseverance

My speech difficulties humbled me. I discovered my resolve. I walked through trials and tribulations, somehow forged ahead. I stumbled and found a way to get back up. It opened my heart to others with differences and disabilities. 

It taught me broken crayons still color. I faced the bitter and the sweet, and the bitter grew my gratitude for the sweet things in my life. 

The intolerance others mirrored was a valuable lesson. Not knowing the back-story of what others are going through leaves lots of room for misperception. I can’t fault others for misunderstanding. 

I saw improvements when I looked people in their eyes. I learned to be present, to be a better listener. I confronted my fears and trusted God. Speaking my truth and being honest made me feel good about myself. 

Journaling became a dear friend. I poured out my emotions on paper. Learning self-acceptance was a struggle.  I prayed and had no choice but to be patient with others and myself.

I became mindful of how important generosity, graciousness, and gratitude are. The three G’s have transformative power.  Many were kind and patient with me stumbling.

Ginger was a blessing, a gift, an earth angel. Fate destined us to meet. She was the catalyst to me getting a definitive diagnosis over 40 years later.  Three doctors and a language speech pathologist evaluated and diagnosed my condition in 2016.  How sweet it is to know!

What a weight lifted off my shoulders.  I am not crazy after all.  I owe Ginger a debt of gratitude. Wherever you are, Ginger, I thank you.

Final Note: Gary Tyler was sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, known as the worst and bloodiest prison in the country.  His case was appealed by many supporters, and In April 2016 he was finally released after 41 years in prison.  He now lives in California and is a graphic artist.  I always believed in his innocence.  “Free at last.  Thank God Almighty, free at last!” 

Gary Tyler in 2017.

Gary Tyler in 2017.

Audrey Perkins

June 18, 2938 - January 31, 2018

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On 1/31/2018 we suddenly lost our beloved Audrey. She was preceded in death by her parents George and Margaret Salyer, and her late husband Judge David Perkins. She is survived by her step-daughter Nancy Lynn Perkins, Long Beach, California and nieces Cheryl Perkins, El Monte, California, Sandy Curtis, Great Falls, Montana,  Vicki   Perkins, Menifee, California and numerous cousins in the EAST and many many friends in Downey, CA and Bermuda Dunes, CA and throughout the Coachella Valley and in recent years she added her Canadian family.


Audrey was born and raised in Rochester, NY, worked for Kodak and completed her education at Allegheny College. Upon graduation she left for California were she met her fireman husband David. They settled in Downey, CA where they took in many rescue dogs and she was very active in the community. Upon retirement they moved to Bermuda Dunes, again Audrey was active in community affairs, including membership in P.E.O. and Assistance League in both the desert and Downey.


Memorial service dates are pending, both in the desert and Downey. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made at The Joanne Barr Memorial Liver Transplant Foundation; The Allegheny college Scholarship Fun; South East Area Animal Control Authority (“SEAACA”); Humane Society of the Desert Orphan Pet Oasis or The Cancer Society.


Contact Dottie Grimes at (949) 981-0387 for memorial services.

Shared Stories: What's wrong with your leg?

Katie Troy’s exuberance defies the reality of her progressive disease. She travels everywhere in her “convertible” (motorized wheelchair) and never loses an opportunity to promote the advantages of a healthy diet. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center.  Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program.  Curated by Carol Kearns.

By Katie Troy
 

I worked as a food server at South Street Deli for eight or nine years.  It was a very fun job.  I would laugh and tell jokes to the customers and they would tell me some as well.

One day I told my boss, “This job is scary.  I’m having too much fun.”

About a year and a half after 9/11, on March 26, 2003, I waited on four lovely ladies.  I had a ball with them.  I even got to tell them my Penny joke that a customer had shared with me.  
A customer asked me, “What’s wrong with your leg?” I said, “I don’t know.  It just doesn’t want to work.”

On April 1, 2003, I came into work and my boss said, “You have a letter from the four ladies you waited on last week.”

I said, “You’re joking, right?”  It was April Fool’s Day.  

He said, “No, you have a letter.” He went back to his office and brought it to me.  It was a lovely letter.  I even laminated it.  That was on Monday.

On Friday, when I walked into the restaurant, the manager from Katella Deli was standing there. (The two delis were owned by the same firm.)  As she handed me my check, she said, “Give me your apron and tie. We are closing.”

That was a trip.  I hadn’t gone to the doctor about my leg because I didn’t want to miss work. Now I could go to the doctor.

I knew exactly what was wrong when I asked my brother David, who has MS (multiple sclerosis), if he could run. He said no, so I knew I had MS as well. David’s MS mostly affected his right arm. He’s right-handed. My MS mostly affected my left leg.

I was upset that my neurologist made me get a spinal tap. I know now that it was all about the money and the injections he put me on, and the depression pills I took because of the poison shots.

I had to work at getting on disability. They denied me several times before I finally started receiving it.  My arms were (and are still) very muscular and I looked healthy.  Everyone was telling me to cover my “guns” (arm muscles) because the disability people didn’t believe I was ill.

Then I went to get Access (a ride service) about six years ago. I went in a wheelchair and my request was still denied three times before it was approved.

It’s been a crazy ride over the past 15 years. I wish I could walk, but I cruise in my motorized wheelchair instead. I go everywhere in it (except when I travel to Pennsylvania to visit my family) and I am on my third one in 10 years.

Since I developed MS, I stopped eating animals and sugar and GMOs (genetically modified organisms).  MS landed me here, or should I say God dropped me off.  Otherwise, I would never have met my Memoirs family or my “Mom” and neighbor Yolanda. 

I guess we all need to grow old gracefully.
 

Downey, Warren enter winter postseasons

DOWNEY – The Warren High School girls’ basketball team finished their regular season with an overall record of 15-10 and a S.G.V.L. record of 6-4. 

The Lady Bears traveled to St. Joseph’s of Lakewood yesterday for their first-round game in the C.I.F. Division 3AA playoffs (score unavailable at press time). Coach Rachel Palmer, her staff and players are all looking forward to making a run in postseason play.

St. Joseph’s finished their regular season with an overall record of 12-14 and a Camino Real League record of 5-3. The Lady Jesters are the third entry from the Camino Real League. 

 

WARREN GIRLS WATER POLO: The Warren High School girls’ water polo team finished their regular season with an overall record of 12-17 and a S.G.V.L. record of 4-1.

The Lady Bears hosted Villa Park on Wednesday in the wild card round of the C.I.F. Division 3 playoffs (score unavailable at press time). If Warren won Wednesday, they played Long Beach Wilson yesterday. Coach Stephanie Rosero, her staff and players are all looking forward to making a run in postseason play. 

Villa Park finished their regular season with an overall record of 15-16 and a Crestview League record of 1-2. The Lady Spartans are an at-large entry from the Crestview League.

 

WARREN GIRLS SOCCER: The Warren High School girls’ soccer team finished their regular season with an overall record of 20-2 and a S.G.V.L. record of 10-0. The Lady Bears are the 2018 S.G.V.L. champions. 

The Lady Bears hosted Rosary Academy of Fullerton yesterday at Warren in the first round of the C.I.F. Division 2 playoffs (score unavailable at press time). Coach Lily Dussan, her staff and players are all looking forward to making a deep run in postseason play.

Rosary Academy finished their regular season with an overall record of 12-7-4 and were 4-4 in Trinity League play. The Lady Royals were the number three entry from the Trinity League.  

 

DOWNEY GIRLS BASKETBALL: The Downey High School girls’ basketball team finished their regular season with an overall record of 21-5 and a S.G.V.L. record of 8-2. 

The Lady Vikings hosted Murrieta Valley in the first round of the C.I.F Division 2A playoffs at Downey yesterday (score unavailable at press time). Coach Nate Harris, his staff and players are all looking forward to making a deep run in postseason play.

Murrieta Valley finished their regular season with an overall record of 15-11 and a Southwestern League record of 7-3. The Lady Nighthawks are the number two entry from the Southwestern League.

The Downey High School girls’ water polo team finished their regular season with an overall record of 23-5 and a S.G.V.L. record of 5-0. The Lady Vikings are the 2018 S.G.V.L. champions.

Coach Uriel Villa, his staff and players are all looking forward to making a deep run in postseason play. Downey hosted Hillcrest of Riverside on Wednesday in the first round of the C.I.F. Division 4 playoffs (score unavailable at press time).

The Lady Trojans finished their regular season with an overall record of 16-13 and a River Valley League record of 8-2. Hillcrest is the number one entry from the River Valley League. 

 

DOWNEY GIRLS SOCCER: The Downey High School girls’ soccer team finished their regular season with an overall record of 12-6-4 and a S.G.V.L record of 7-2-1. 

The Lady Vikings traveled to Mayfair yesterday to play the Lady Monsoons in the first round of the C.I.F. Division 3 playoffs (score unavailable at press time). 

Mayfair finished their regular season with an overall record of 17-3-3 and a Suburban League record of 10-1-1. The Lady Monsoons are the number two entry from the Suburban League. Coach Javier Aguiniga, his staff and players are all looking forward to making a deep run postseason play. 

 

DOWNEY BOYS BASKETBALL: The Downey High School boys’ basketball team finished their season with an overall record of 10-16 and a S.G.V.L. record of 4-6. 

The Vikings finished their season on a two-game winning streak by defeating cross-town rival Warren at Downey 64-61 on 2/6 and defeating Gahr at Downey 56-51 on 2/8. Downey did not qualify for postseason play. Coach Larry Shelton and his staff will now focus their efforts on preparing for next season.

 

DOWNEY WRESTLING: The Downey High School wrestling team was defeated by Arroyo 53-16 in the C.I.F. Western Division Wrestling Final on Feb. 3. 

Downey received a bye in the first round, defeated La Canada 48-30 in the second round, defeated Millikan in the semi-final round and was defeated by Arroyo in the Final. 

Arroyo had a bye in the first round, defeated Paramount 55-15 in the second round, defeated Mayfair 41-32 in the semi-final round and defeated the Vikings in the championship final to claim the crown.

Coach Miguel Soto, his staff and wrestlers will now turn their attention towards C.I.F. Individual competition, the Master’s Meet and the State Meet. Downey is the 2018 San Gabriel Valley League champion.

 

DOWNEY BOYS SOCCER: The Downey High School boys’ soccer team finished their regular season with an overall record of 13-7-4 and a S.G.V.L. record of 7-1-2. The Vikings are the 2018 S.G.V.L. champions.

Downey will host Fountain Valley later today at Downey.

Coach Marvin Mires, his staff and players are all looking forward to making a deep run in the C.I.F Division 1 playoffs. 

Fountain Valley finished their season with an overall record of 9-11-1 and a Sunset League record of 5-5. The Barons are the number three entry from the Sunset League. 

 

WARREN BOYS BASKETBALL: The Warren High School boys’ basketball team finished their regular season with an overall record of 15-10 and a S.G.V.L. record of 6-4.

The Bears traveled to St. Paul on Wednesday to take on the Swordsmen in the first round of the C.I.F. Division 3AA playoffs (score unavailable at press time). Coach Zaiid Leflore, his staff and players are all looking forward to making a run in postseason play. 

St. Paul finished their regular season with an overall record of 22-5 and a Santa Fe League record of 8-2. St. Paul is the number two entry from the Santa Fe League.

 

WARREN WRESTLING: The Warren High School wrestling team did not participate in the C.I.F. Western Division Duals on Feb. 3. 

Warren finished third in San Gabriel Valley action behind cross-town rival Downey and Paramount, respectively.

The Bears will now turn their attention to C.I.F. Individual competition, the Master’s Meet and the State Meet in Bakersfield. Coach Brogden, his staff and wrestlers are all looking forward to advancing in postseason competition.

 

WARREN BOYS SOCCER: The Warren High School boys’ soccer team finished their regular season with an overall record of 10-7-4 and a S.G.V.L. record of 7-2-1. 

The Bears will host Harvard-Westlake later today in the first round of the C.I.F. Division 1 playoffs . Coach Pena, his staff and players are all looking forward to the start of postseason play.

Harvard-Westlake finished their regular season with an overall record of 9-8-2 and a Mission League record of 7-4-1. The Wolverines are the number two entry from the Mission League.