These two graduating seniors have never missed a day of school

DOWNEY – To many, missing a day of school or work due to illness or other type of worthy reason  would be something that one wouldn’t lose sleep over. 

But for two Downey Unified students, the idea of missing a day of school for any reason was something that wasn’t even a thought; and on Friday, June 2, Downey High School (DHS) will be graduating these two devoted students who have never missed a day of school.

They are the only two students within Downey Unified to graduate this year with perfect attendance.

Having never missed school in his 13 years since kindergarten, Downey High School’s Kyle Vasquez is one of these dedicated students. He attended Rio San Gabriel Elementary, East Middle School (as it was named until Vasquez completed his eighth-grade year), then DHS, being an avid athlete playing baseball all four years at DHS. 

He credits a portion of his commitment to the teachers at DHS, in particular, Mrs. Ramirez. Vasquez was enrolled in her English class his freshman year and, now a senior, was lucky enough to be in her class again.

“She is just the type of teacher that you can tell really cares about her students,” expressed Vasquez. 

But this wasn’t the only reason. Vasquez’ father, Alex, was also a huge catalyst behind his perfect attendance; originally promising Vasquez a vehicle upon graduation if this achievement was realized. 

Even through very trying times when his mother was fighting cancer, unfortunately losing the battle, he still did not miss a day of school.

Last year, the incentive changed, however. Vasquez now no longer wanted a brand-new car; the car he currently had was in good condition and he put his sights on other goals.  What he wanted now was to go on a trip with his father so he began to save up as he continued his perfect-attendance streak. 

“He first wanted a new car,” expressed Alex Vasquez, Kyle’s father. “Then he wanted to take a trip, just the two of us… then as he began to save up money, he decided he might just want to continue saving for his future instead of spending it on a trip.”

With less than two weeks left before graduation, this 13-year goal is now truly becoming a reality. Vasquez will attend Long Beach State in the fall where he will be studying Business Economics.

Akhila Nallamilli is the second devoted student that will be receiving a diploma on June 2 having never missed a day of school.

Nallamilli transferred to Downey Unified as a third-grade student, attending Ward and Carpenter elementary schools, Sussman Middle School, then DHS. 

She credits a portion of her commitment to attending school without fail to her allegiance to education. 

“I never wanted to miss a day because I never wanted to fall behind or miss anything,” expressed Nallamilli.

Moving from India when she was six-years old, she attended schools in Redlands, Calif., before moving to Downey. Nallamilli also recognizes her parents for being a large influence in her perfect attendance feat. 

Similar to Vasquez, Nallamilli also gives gratitude to two teachers she feels assisted her along the way, Mr. Young and Mr. Hwang. Enrolled in their Honors Biology and Principles of Biomedical Science classes her freshman year then fortuitous enough to be under both of their instruction for AP Biology and Medical Interventions her senior year, Nallamilli will be following her passion for Biology that she acquired at DHS.

“Taking the Medical Intervention Pathway really made my interest in this subject even more profound,” stated Nallamilli.  

She will graduate with a cumulative district weighted 4.17 GPA and attend the University of California, Santa Barbara, in the fall to study Biology pre-med.

“With one main facet of our vision to graduate all students with a 21st Century education that ensures they are college and career ready, being in class as much as possible is a critical piece,” said Downey Unified superintendent Dr. John Garcia. 

“Kyle and Akhila are truly great examples of our vision in practice and I, along with the Board of Education, can’t wait to see the amazing achievements these two exceptional individuals will attain after graduation.”

Memorial Day: It's not just another long weekend

It’s a part of our law and history books – Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was mostly known in the past, was to become an act of the 1968 Congress (36 U.S. Code § 116 - Memorial Day) so that “in a symbolic act of unity, to observe a National Moment of Remembrance to honor the men and women of the United States who died in the pursuit of freedom and peace,” and “the people may unite in prayer for a permanent peace.” 

Our nation’s history has been one of evolution and revolution in term of the pursuit of freedom and self-government and many of our citizens have fought to preserve and extend those freedoms, some at the ultimate cost.

At the end of each May, Americans have gathered to celebrate and honor our service men and women who have bravely sacrificed, but the importance and significance of the last Monday in May often gets mired in the commercials and sales advertisements or calls to invite friends over for a barbeque without a thought behind the meaning of the day.

For others, it means gathering in their local cities and towns in a memorial park or other civic area paying homage to our fallen brothers and sisters. It’s meant to be a day of communities coming together for a common purpose and to reflect – it’s America’s second greatest celebration of freedom provided to us by our military heroes.

As a nation, we have lost over a million souls to battle, none greater than the near half million in the Civil War (498,332 perished), which was the genesis for the creation of Memorial Day. America’s excellence is due to the valor of our soldiers who serve as our nation’s warriors and peace keepers.

And that’s why this day is so important to all of us, to pay a well-deserved tribute to those brave Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our great nation, who ensured for us the freedoms that we now enjoy.

As Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, I have seen firsthand the sacrifice our military men and women, and their families, make to protect our freedom and our nation. There is no one more deserving of our respect and recognition. 

This Memorial Day please take a moment to pray for our American heroes, for those that perished and the 1.3 million serving across the globe today and every day. We can do this in so many simple, yet meaningful ways - visit memorials or cemeteries and place flags or flowers on the graves of those fallen service members; fly the U.S. flag at half-staff until 12 noon; we can collectively participate in a national moment of remembrance to voluntarily and informally pause at 3 p.m. local time to reflect and remember. And we can pledge to help those widows and widowers, parents, and children of the fallen.

To our Gold Star families - we are humbled by your sacrifice, inspired by your resilience and grateful for your continued service to our communities.

We must, as Americans, remind ourselves that the patriotic acts of these individuals continually provides us with the ability to carry on our nation’s traditions and values, bringing hope to the rest of the world that Democracy will endure.

Theirs is a legacy nearly two-and-a-half centuries old. Whenever freedom is threatened, gallant men and women of America risked and gave their lives in the service to our country. We celebrate Memorial Day because generations of brave and courageous warriors have dedicated themselves to the defense of the United States. It is what has always made America the beacon of hope and freedom that we are.

In closing, I would like to end with the challenge then-President Reagan gave to all Americans on behalf of those we have lost, when he spoke at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, 1982.

“Our first obligation to them and ourselves is plain enough. The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has cost: it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we-in a less heroic way-be willing to give of ourselves”. 

“If words cannot repay the debt we owe these men and women, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice”.

I hope we can each live up to President Reagan’s challenge, and through our own action, keep faith with all those who have fought and served, by keeping their memory alive. 

Mario A. Guerra is the former Mayor of Downey and current Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army. He can be reached at Mario@GuerraIns.com
 

Shared Stories: The House on New Jersey Street

In an era without cellphones, Yolanda Adele knew how to keep herself occupied when there was no one around to play with.  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 Yolanda Adele

In my preteen years, I lived with my mother in a small, rented “Arts and Crafts” style house in the East Los Angeles Boyle Heights district.  Its design was influenced by the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

The front porch was spacious. I’d often sit out there on the full-size divan and greet our neighbors as they walked past our house after they got off the street car at the corner of our block, carrying their metal lunchboxes. 

There was only one bedroom, which I occupied.  It had a screen-less window that looked out into our Gypsy neighbor’s drive-way which supplied me with many interesting views of their colorful life-style, but that’s another story. 

My mother used the dining room as her bedroom.  It had a built-in mahogany buffet table next to her bed.  The kitchen had a built-in ironing board and a walk-in pantry.  

The backdoor led into a screened porch that served as separate entrance for boarders who rented the upstairs area that had been converted into six bachelor flats - one-room furnished apartments.

Whenever a room was not rented, I’d love to let myself in with my Shirley Temple doll, movie magazines, chalk-like candied cigarettes, vinyl records, and portable record player in tow. I‘d quickly pull down the Murphy bed and get Shirley cozy in it. Next thing to do was plug in my record player -  and my imagination. 

To anyone peering in, it might seem like a dingy room with a lonely child in it, but they‘d be mistaken.  Within those four walls I was in control of my environment, my Magical (“tinsel”) Kingdom where I was the reigning starlet.

The sparsely furnished room was transformed into a mansion, not unlike Tara. The essence of Miss Scarlett O’Hara loomed among the icons from the silver screen.  I’d often see the likes of Clark Gable, Charles Boyer, Robert Taylor, or Cary Grant looking back at me from the oval mirror above the dresser. 

I’d coyly raise my imagined Waterford Crystal champagne glass in a mock toast before returning my attention to the girls, Bette Davis, Susan Hayworth, Rita Hayworth, and Lana Turner. They were beautiful and sassy in their own, signature way. 

Of course, all of us girls smoked cigarettes, but none quite like Bette. 

She could blow different sized smoke rings that hovered over the guests like halos, or demons. Whenever Bette spoke passionately, she’d wave her cigarette holder like a wand to punctuate her point of view. 

The most thrilling scenes were watching Bette motion to Paul Henreid from across the crowded, star-studded room when she wanted “a light,” and he’d gallantly rush to her.     

From his inside jacket pocket he took out a solid-gold cigarette case engraved with his initials, a gift from her. He removed a cigarette for himself, put it to his mouth, and slid the case back into his pocket, never taking his eyes off of hers. 

He took her cigarette, put it to his moist, warm lips and lit their cigarettes simultaneously; after which he handed one to Bette as their eyes locked. In that smoldering, charged moment, I held my breath before exhaling the smoke from my candied Lucky Strike cigarette.     

Big orchestra music from my small record player filled the room with the sounds of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Embraceable you, followed by Irving Berlin’s Let’s Face the Music and Dance. 

And dance they did. The room glowed with the bevy of brightly colored gowns the star-divas twirled in. Luscious, sweet floral fragrances from their perfumes mingled and permeated the atmosphere. 

Alas, the chime from the Good Humor truck coming down the street often broke the magic.  Shirley usually cried for an ice -cream sandwich.  I’d quickly pick her up and yell over my shoulder as I ran out the door, “Darlings, you all go home to Hollywood now, the party is over.”  

I always returned to clean up after my illustrious parties.  I’d put back the Murphy bed and gather my belongings.  All the while I’d plan the guest list in my head for the next gala event, knowing that there would always be enough room for my imagination, and the cast of hundreds, even if we had to move the party down the hall to another vacant apartment.

Downey's Ricardo Perez to give commencement address at Rio Hondo College

WHITTIER –  A Downey attorney who has helped helm Rio Hondo College’s innovative Pathway to Law School program will give the commencement address at the College’s 54th annual Commencement Ceremony, set for 6 p.m. Thursday, May 25 at the hilltop campus.

Ricardo Perez, a civil lawyer who often advocates on behalf of children’s and immigrant rights, will share his journey as an undocumented youth living a gang-dominated neighborhood to attending UCLA and law school.

Perez will touch on the struggles of being isolated during Loyola Law School – so much so that he dropped out during his first try – and how he learned to forge connections with classmates and, later, his community.

Downey attorney Ricardo Perez, who has helped helm Rio Hondo College’s innovative Pathway to Law School program, will give the commencement address at the College’s 54th annual Commencement Ceremony at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 25 at the hilltop campus.

Downey attorney Ricardo Perez, who has helped helm Rio Hondo College’s innovative Pathway to Law School program, will give the commencement address at the College’s 54th annual Commencement Ceremony at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 25 at the hilltop campus.

The ceremony will recognize as many as 1,553 students who earned a record 2,154 degrees in summer/fall 2016 or spring/summer 2017.

“Each year at Rio Hondo College, we see an acceleration in accomplishments from our talented and dedicated students,” Superintendent/President Teresa Dreyfuss said. “It’s a great confirmation of our mission to provide students with access and opportunity as they pursue their higher-education dreams.”

During the ceremony, students will hear remarks from Dreyfuss, Board of Trustees President Norma Edith Garcia and Associated Students of Rio Hondo College President Andrew Gonzalez, a founding member of the College’s Pre-Law Society who will pursue his studies at Syracuse University.

Academic Senate President Robert Bethel will announce the class valedictorian, Jianshu Chi. Chi, who immigrated to the U.S. from China at age 17, plans to study computer science at Southern Taiwan University for Science and Technology before pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree at UC Berkeley.

Vice President of Student Services Henry Gee will recognize three students selected as “profiles in student success” for overcoming significant obstacles en route to securing their degrees.

The ceremony also marks the graduation of the second cohort of students in Rio Hondo College’s Pathway to Law School program. This year, 15 students will matriculate to such universities as UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, Cal State Los Angeles, Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State Long Beach for the second stage of their three-part journey to law school.

Students in Rio Hondo College’s nursing program will receive pins on Wednesday, May 24 to mark their success. In all, 75 students will receive associate degrees in nursing, 24 will receive vocational nursing certifications and more than 65 will receive certifications this year from Rio Hondo College’s several nursing assistant programs.

Many of the students with associate degrees are already enrolled in bachelor’s programs through partnerships with California State University, Los Angeles, Azusa Pacific University and University of Phoenix.

Rio Hondo College is also home to acclaimed public safety training programs, which hold their graduations throughout the year. This year, 29 police cadets graduated in January; 40 more are expected to graduate in August. The Fire Academy will graduate 36 cadets, the EMT program will graduate 89 students and the Wildland Fire Academy will graduate 40 cadets this year.

“Each spring, our Rio Hondo College community celebrates the extraordinary achievements of our students, who depart our campus eminently well prepared for the next stage of their life journeys – whether those journeys are taking them to four-year colleges or into our highly competitive job market,” Board of Trustees President Norma Edith Garcia said.

Downey Patriot nominated for 4 L.A. Press Club awards

The Downey Patriot picked up four nominations in the L.A. Press Club’s 59th Southern California Journalism Awards. 

Mario Guerra and Ben Dickow were both nominated in the Commentary category. 

Guerra, a two-time mayor of Downey who immigrated to the United States from Cuba at age 6, was nominated for his column titled “Que Viva Cuba Libre,” written after the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Dickow, the executive director of the Columbia Memorial Space Center, was nominated for an essay titled “The Importance of Open Access to Downey’s Space Center.” 

In the essay, Dickow described the impact museums had on him as a child growing up in Chicago. 

George Redfox and Kathy Perez were nominated in the News Feature category for the story “Preservationists Hunt for Downey’s Cinderella Home.”

The story chronicled their efforts to find a Cinderella-inspired home designed by architect Jean Valjean VanDruff. 

Lastly, Downey resident Sharon Smith’s editorial “The Problem with Senior Housing”, about her difficulties finding affordable housing in Downey and surrounding communities, was nominated for best column of 2016.

Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony June 25 at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. 

'Crimes of the Heart' opening in Long Beach

"Crimes of the Heart," the Pulitzer Prize-winning comic drama about three Mississippi sisters betrayed by their passions, opens June 9 at International City Theatre in Long Beach. 

“I have loved this play ever since I saw the original Broadway production,” says director Luke Yankee, whose previous directing credits at ICT include "Private Lives" and "Shipwrecked!" “Its wit, charm and humanity speak to me — and to many of us — on a very basic level. Its message of honoring and loving your family first, no matter what, is timeless.”

Set in Hazlehurst, Mississippi in 1974, "Crimes of the Heart" tells the story of the three Magrath sisters: Lenny, the oldest, is unmarried and facing diminishing marital prospects. Middle sister Meg has just returned from the West Coast after a failed attempt at a singing career. And youngest sister Babe has just been bailed out of jail after shooting her husband in the stomach.

Their priggish and insufferable cousin, Chick, seems only too pleased to stir up gossip and rehash old family scandals.

Into this disturbing but hilarious world of dysfunction comes Barnette, an awkward young lawyer who hopes to rescue Babe from her legal predicament. Rounding out the group is Doc Porter, Meg’s former flame whom she ditched after a brief tryst five years earlier during Hurricane Camille.

Beth Henley completed writing the play in 1978 and submitted it to several regional theaters — without success. Unknown to her, a friend entered it in the Great American Play Contest at the Actors Theatre of Louisville. It was named co-winner and produced at the 1979 Actors Theatre Festival of New American Plays.

There, it was so well received that it was selected by numerous regional theaters for their 1979-80 seasons. The Manhattan Theatre Club produced it off-Broadway in December 1980, where it a garnered the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play. It opened on Broadway at the John Golden Theatre in 1981.

The 1986 film adaptation was directed by Bruce Beresford; it garnered three Academy Award nominations.

"Crimes of the Heart" runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., June 9-25. Two preview performances take place June 7-8, both at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $47 on Thursdays and Fridays, and $49 on Saturdays and Sundays, except for June 9 (opening night) for which tickets are $55 and include a post show reception at Utopia Restaurant. Tickets to preview shows are $35. 

International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. For reservations and information, call 562-436-4610 or go to InternationalCityTheatre.org.
 

Legislation would designate Rancho hospital as 'rehabilitation innovation center'

A bill to designate Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitant Center as a ‘rehabilitation innovation center’ advanced in the State Assembly with a 14-1 vote last week.

Photo by Pam Lane, DowneyDailyPhotos.com

Photo by Pam Lane, DowneyDailyPhotos.com

Assembly Bill 1411, by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), was brought forward by constituents during the assemblywoman’s annual ‘There Ought to be a Law’ contest, which was won with this proposal.

The Rehabilitation Innovation Center designation recognizes an inpatient rehabilitation research center that has particular expertise in treating patients with the most complex rehabilitation needs.

Located in Downey, it was first founded in 1888 to serve farming families who could not afford medical services.

“Rancho Los Amigos provides care to approximately 4,000 inpatients and 71,000 outpatients annually, making it one of the largest rehabilitation centers in the nation,” said Garcia. “At a time when healthcare for working Americans is in a perilous position, 85% of this center’s patients are on MediCal and it’s the only public rehabilitation facility in Southern California even though it’s one of the most premiere facilities in the country.”

As the only rehabilitation hospital in Los Angeles County’s Department of Health Services, the center serves a unique and vital role in patient recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration. The hospital specializes in brain, neurology, orthopedic, pediatric, spine injury, and stroke rehabilitation. Each year, the hospital provides care to approximately 4,000 inpatients and 71,000 outpatients, making it one of the largest rehabilitation centers in the nation.

“This legislation recognizes the few rehabilitation centers, like Rancho Los Amigos, that have a higher calling to treat the most complex patients, provide access to the most vulnerable, and contribute to advancing the science of rehabilitation,” said Jorge Orozco, Chief Executive Officer at Rancho Los Amigos.

A video of just one of the innovative treatments the center has created can be found here.  In it, nodes connected directly to a paraplegic man’s brain control a robotic arm enabling him to drink a beer for the first time by himself since his accident. 

“Their innovative care and ability to heal thousands of people every year not only provide a beckon of hope for patients in need but they’re also a fantastic example of the services and advancements burgeoning in this region,” added Garcia.  “The work Rancho Los Amigos does is amazing—just watch the video!  The potential partnerships to advance care and innovation in rehabilitation treatments are endless and start-ups should take note and visit this jewel in my district soon.”

The bill will next be heard in Assembly Appropriations. 

Former mob boss is keynote speaker at Mayor's Prayer Breakfast

Former mafia boss Michael Franzese, who at his peak generated an estimated $8 million per week through illicit business dealings, will be the keynote speaker at the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast on Saturday, June 3.

The breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Rio Hondo Event Center. Admission is $20. 

A member of the Colombo crime family, Franzese made a fortune selling bootleg gasoline and other crime ventures. In 1986, at age 35, he was named by Vanity Fair one of the biggest money-earners the mob had seen since Al Capone. 

Fortune Magazine listed him No. 18 on its list of the "Fifty Wealthiest and Powerful Mafia Bosses." 

Not surprisingly, Franzese quickly became the target of Manhattan's famed federal prosecutor, Rudolph Guiliani. Facing 100 years behind bars after an indictment on federal racketerring charges, Franzese pleaded guilty to two counts, reducing his sentence to 10 years in prison and $14 million in restitution payments. 

Franzese denounced the crime lifestyle while in prison and became a devout Christian. He remains the only person of his rank to ever walk away from the mob -- and live. 

 

Letter to the Editor: Response from Downey PD

This letter is in response to a previous letter received last week.

Dear Editor:

On May 16th, 2017, at about 1352, our dispatch center received a call on the business line from Mrs. Curtis, but after a few moments, the call was placed on hold when they received an unrelated call via 911. Once the 911 call was handled, and our dispatcher was able to speak with Mrs Curtis, the call was entered and officers responded, arriving within five minutes of being dispatched. During the call, Mrs Curtis advised that the subject was last seen walking away from her residence and towards Pangborn Ave and Muller St.
 
Responding officers located the suspect away from the caller’s residence, and he was ultimately arrested. Unfortunately, the original caller was not notified of his arrest.
 
I called the Curtis residence this afternoon and spoke with Mrs Curtis, the original caller, to let her know what happened and apologized for us not following up with her immediately after making the arrest, as we should have.
 
While I understand that Mr. Curtis was upset in his belief that the Downey Police did not respond, it is simply not true. We should have notified them of the arrest, but unfortunately we did not until my phone call to them today.
 
In regards to Mrs Curtis being placed on hold, our dispatch center has to answer calls that come in via 911 as quickly as possible, not knowing the nature of the call. Often times, other callers may get put on hold when other, more emergent matters arise.
 
We appreciate the concern and feedback from the Curtis family, and apologize for falling short. We will continue to strive to be better.
 
Sincerely,
 
Dean R. Milligan
Police Captain, Field Operations

Downey Patriot wins 5 awards at state journalism contest

The Downey Patriot earned five awards at a state journalism contest Saturday, including four prizes for editor Eric Pierce. 

The California Newspaper Publishers Association received 2,668 total entries in 39 categories in its Better Newspaper Contest, which honored excellence in journalism during the 2016 year.

Winners were announced during a luncheon Saturday at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. 

In the Best Front Page (Broadsheet) category, The Downey Patriot staff won honorable mention for its single entry of three front pages, which included: 

■the Oct. 20, 2016 issue that listed all campaign contributions for City Council candidates; 

■the Oct. 13, 2016 issue that included coverage of a Downey Patriot-sponsored City Council debate at the Downey Theatre; 

■and the June 30, 2016 issue, which reported on the City Council’s decision to put a proposed half-cent sales tax increase on that November’s ballot. 

 

Downey Patriot editor Eric Pierce won four awards, including second place for his photo essay of the Downey Christmas Parade. 

“Bringing a routine photo assignment like a Christmas parade to life is sometimes a challenge,” judges wrote in their comments. “These photos captured the event well and made me feel like I was there.”

Pierce also won three honorable mentions: two separate awards for his photo coverage of the Ricky Galvez memorial dedication, and for his essay titled “How I Went from Journalist to Realtor.”

The contest was open to daily and weekly newspapers across California, along with college publications.
 

Letter to the Editor: Upset with Downey Police

Dear Editor:

On May 16, my wife called me in a panic. A man was at our front door pulling his pants down to his ankles. Not knowing what to do, I told her to call the Downey Police Department and to keep the doors locked.

My wife was ready to leave the house to pick up our granddaughters from school, but was afraid to leave with the man standing at our door. When my wife called "Downey's finest," she was placed on hold for so long that she had to hang up and call our daughter to tell her that she was unable to pick up our granddaughters.

After explaining the situation to our daughter, she placed another call for help to the Downey Police, only to be asked if this was an emergency. When she was finally able to explain the situation, dispatch ask if she wanted to be contacted by an officer. Of course, she answered "Yes."

At no time since the call did she receive a call or visit from the Downey Police Department.

I can only imagine that the Police Department was so busy tracking down kidnappers, bank robbers and car thieves that they couldn't be bothered to respond to my wife's call for help. If that was the case, I understand, but to completely ignore a request from a panicked citizen is inexcusable.

Stanley Curtis
Downey

WWE Backlash: Preview and Predictions

It was a few weeks ago that the stars of Raw looked for some post-Wrestlemania “Payback.” Now, the superstars of Smackdown face “Backlash.”

Tye Dillinger vs Aiden English

The “Perfect 10” has defeated and frustrated “The Drama King” over the last several weeks. They’re both mid-card talent and there’s nothing really important hanging in the balance. This match wouldn’t be happening if the WWE wasn’t up to something. 

I was always of a fan of Aiden English and the Vaudevillians, however with Simon Gotch now gone from the company English finds himself a singles competitor. He’s been solidly beaten over the last several weeks, but I sense a change in his fortunes. 
Prediction: Aiden English

 

Sami Zayn vs Baron Corbin

Poor Sami Zayn is being fed to someone again.

These two have been going after each other for the last several weeks. Now, the score is set to be settled on Sunday. 

I long for the day that “The Underdog from the Underground” gets his time to shine, but for now Baron Corbin seems to be building momentum during his eventual push to the main event. 
Prediction: Baron Corbin

 

Luke Harper vs Erick Rowen

Two former Wyatt Family brothers now face off. 

Rowen returned from injury not too long ago, however upon his return the Wyatt Family was in the midst of imploding and Bray was quickly off to Raw. 

Rowen needs the win here, and with the tons of momentum Harper has had a loss won’s hurt him substantially.
Prediction: Erick Rowen

 

Naomi, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch vs Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina

WWE is blessed with a wealth of great female talent right now, so they should avoid just booking the women for the sake of booking them. But I digress… 

The inaugural and current Smackdown Women’s Champions’ and Smackdown’s newest acquisition take on Natalya and her “welcoming committee.” 

WWE has been pushing the angle that Naomi, Flair and Lynch are “on the same page” really hard, which makes me smell a rat. 

Someone is going to turncoat and cost the good guys the match. The obvious choice is Flair, which makes me absolutely believe that we’re about to see an unexpected Lynch heel turn. 
Prediction: Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina.

 

The Usos (c) vs Breezango for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships

Call me crazy, but this match screams upset!

Compared to Raw, Smackdown’s tag team division is a little lacking, to say the least. Raw has Enzo and Big Cass, The Hardy Boyz, Sheamus and Cesaro, and The Club. Smackdown has, uh, The Ascension? 

The Usos have had much more of an entertaining title run than American Alpha before them, but the Blue Brand still needs to establish a few of their tag teams as credible. 
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but “The Fashion Police” are adding a new blue and silver accessory to their summer ensemble. 
Prediction: Breezeango

 

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler

“The King of Strong Style” vs “The Show Off;” if you’re not drooling, you may not be a real wrestling fan.

Nakamura’s long anticipated call up to the main roster finally came around the time of the Superstar Shakeup, however it’s been over a month and the WWE Universe has yet to see Nakamura participate in a match. 

Ziggler and Nakamura are both sensational workers who are known to put on spectacular matches. This has the potential to steal the show, and is a great opportunity for Nakamura to kick off from while not hurting Ziggler’s stock in the slightest. 
Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

 

Kevin Owens (c) vs AJ Styles for the United States Championship

If Nakamura and Ziggler doesn’t steal the show, this match will. 

Two of the most entertaining talents on the roster (if not the world) face off over for the United States Championship. 

Last Tuesday, AJ Styles told The Canadian “New Face of America” that he intended to bring the United States Championship back to America. 

Neither of these guys need the title; they’re both already extremely over with the crowd. Owens and Styles both are former World Champions, and undoubtedly will both be back in the main event scene eventually. 

For now, let Owens keep the title and build it and himself up. Both individuals should bring out the best in each other for one great match.
Prediction: Kevin Owens

Randy Orton (c) vs Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship 

The Iron Sheik. Nikolai Volkoff. La Resistance. Mahammad Hassan. Rusev. WWE hasn’t been afraid to do the “evil anti-American foreigner” angle before, and the once laughable Jinder Mahal (along with former “Bollywood Boyz” the Singh Brothers) have settled into the role pretty successfully. 

Mahal was quickly and quite surprisingly thrust into the main event scene once he was acquired by Smackdown during the Superstar Shakeup. 

While Randy Orton is undoubtedly one of the more boring and least engaging champions as of late, Mahal isn’t quite at the superstar level he should be to take the title. This is likely not the end of the rivalry by any means.
Prediction: Randy Orton
 

Former Downey police officer Michael Westray passes away

Michael Anthony Westray, 77, of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho passed away April 27 at the Schneidmiller House in Coeur d’ Alene surrounded by family and friends.

Mike, as everyone called him, was born to Vernon and Mary Alice Westray on Sept. 6, 1939 in Los Angeles. After graduating from South Gate High School, he joined the United States Navy and served his country for six years.

Upon completion of his engagement in the military, he became a police officer for the City of Downey and retired after 38 years of service.

Mike met Barbara Wade on Nov. 23, 1973 while working as a police officer. They were later married Feb. 21, 1976 in Hollydale. Together they lived in Downey where they raised their family. 

After retirement, Mike moved to north Idaho in 2004, settling in Coeur d’ Alene. He became a volunteer for the Coeur d’ Alene Police Department. 

In his younger years Mike enjoyed playing football, as well as speed skating, and riding dirt bikes. He was a member of the Huntington Park Jaycees, Bodie Chapter E Clampus Vitus, NRA, PORAC, and the OWLS.

He is survived by his wife of 41 years Barbara; two sons Matthew (Alice) Westray of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho, Donald (Karleen) Wade of Vista Murrieta Calif.; one daughter Michelle (Timothy) Lipa of Coeur d' Alene; brother Peter (Linda) Westray of California; 10 grandchildren, Shelby and Jack Westray, Alyson, Mitchell, Derek, Devon Wade, Hannah Levinson-Lipa, Timothy, Morgan, Isabella Lipa; two nephews, , Richard (Kristina) Wade, and Ryan (Jennifer) Wade; two nieces, Laura Westray, and Melissa Westray-Olsen; four great-nieces, Rebecca, Victoria, Madison, and Riley; four great-nephews, William, Tyler, Jameson, and Charles; brother-in-law Richard (Arlene) Wade; sister-in-law Rosemarie Wade; and his mother-in-law Jeanette Wade.

Mike was preceded in death by his parents and son, Timothy Westray.

A celebration of life will be held Friday June 23, at 6 p.m.. at the Downey Elks Lodge.

The family suggests that memorials may be made to Downey Police Officers' Association at dpoa.org and Fire Memorial Foundation P.O. Box 1748 Hayden, Idaho 83835. Or you can also donate to Gifts From Riley foundation, please visit www.giftsfromriley.org, and get more information regarding Mike's great-niece Riley.
 

Mel Baldivia was WWII veteran

DOWNEY – Mel G. Baldivia, a father, grandfather and great grandfather, passed away Saturday, April 29, at the age of 97. 

He was born May 24,1919 in Calvillo, Mexico. He served in WWII as part of the USMC First Division Marines stationed in the Pacific. 

He was preceded in death by his wife of 63 years, Theresa, and is survived by his daughters Barbara Rood, Pat Baldivia and son Robert David Baldivia, two grandchildren and three great grandchildren. 

A rosary and visitation was held May 17, with chapel services May 18 at All Souls Cemetery in Long Beach.