How patience plays a role in local news coverage

Let me start off by saying this: I love my job at the Downey Patriot; I am not complaining.

One of the benefits of having a community paper is that you can rest assured that the individuals involved are dedicated to the distribution of information to a city that oftentimes they have very strong ties to (I myself am a “Downey Kid,” having been born, raised, and still residing here).

The downside, however, is community papers are often tiny in comparison to the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and even Orange County Register’s that people often associate with a newsroom.

There’s no extreme hustle and bustle at The Downey Patriot. You won’t find rows of loud whizzing, red-hot printing presses here. Most of our visitors are merely popping in to ask where the mammogram office is (it’s out the door and to the left, by the way).

The Downey Patriot is a small staff; walk into the office on any given day and you will find a handful of people in advertising / legals, our graphic designer, our publisher, and our two-man editorial team.

Let me repeat. Two. Man. Editorial team.

Now before you ask “what about the contributors,” yes, we do have a handful of great and talented individuals who do contribute to our weekly publication. Mark Fetter covers sports. Lorine Parks covers poetry and community events.

We do have the occasional intern, but they usually end up falling through. My Editor Eric Pierce is always telling me that “nine out of ten don’t work out,” although he now jokes that I was “number ten.”

But when it gets right down to the “regular ol’ news,” breaking news, crime, and human interest, much of that falls on the shoulders of Eric and I. Again, this isn’t a complaint; I can tell you for an absolute fact that we are both passionate about what we do.

But it admittedly gets a little frustrating when we get bombarded with comments and tweets about why we covered one thing over another. Why this crime wasn’t mentioned. Why we haven’t reached out to this sport team, but highlighted that one. Why your story hasn’t been published yet.

The Patriot is not a biased paper. It is not a lazy paper. We are not aloof.

The Patriot is however limited in its resources. Often times, what is published or not is determined by space and what is (or is not) available. Sometimes, we’re just forced to “pick our battles.”

This is where the “community” in “community newspaper” could really do wonders.

Want a team’s accomplishments to be featured? Send us a photo and a caption. A student doing great things? Shoot us an email. Fifteen police units with guns drawn and pointed at your neighbor’s house? Tweet us.

Often times our stories and tips come from you guys: the residents of Downey. We could not do our job without you; just cut us a little bit of slack sometimes.

We’re not intentionally ignoring you. We’re not shoving anything under the rug. Most times, we’re already backlogged with interviews, assignments, and content waiting to be published.

And lastly, in case I haven’t said it already…

Two. Man. Editorial team.

Part of being a journalist is having a thick skin. Maybe I still need to work on that.

In the meantime, the Downey Patriot will always be committed to providing the City of Downey with the news, public information, and stories that our community deserves. We’re not perfect, and we are most definitely small, but with the right support we are mighty. We are always open to hearing about what you, our readers, feel should fill your paper because in the end it is your paper.

Just remember, an email, tweet, or phone can go a long way with just a little bit of patience.

Support for Assembly member Garcia

Dear Editor:

If Saturday’s high attendance at Assemblymember Cristina Garcia’s inauguration is any indication of how well respected and admired she is, we can expect more responsive and courageous leadership from her for the 58th assembly district.

Heavy rainfall (a symbol of good luck according to Asian cultures) on her inauguration day could not dampen the enthusiasm of her constituents as they cheered her on for her bold activism. Hence, it was befitting that long-time union activist Dolores Huerta did the honor of swearing in Cristina alongside notable, long-time union activist Maria Elena Durazo, now a current California State Senator.

The display of enthusiasm among diverse constituents from across the 58th assembly district was evident as they showed up in full force to support her. And I’m certain she felt their overwhelming support behind her. The impact she has had on the 58th assembly district is why voters overwhelmingly voted her in for a consecutive term.

To our state Assembly member I say, “Cristina, you have had our back, and your constituents have yours, too. Continue to lead with confidence as many of us welcome your bold, tenacious leadership.”

Sandra Nevarez

Letter to the Editor: Don't dump your pets

Dear Editor:

I am writing this letter in great hope that it will shift the consciousness of anyone that is considering dumping their pet at an animal shelter that euthanizes animals.

I know that you are probably thinking that someone will adopt your pet, or that some fantastic rescue group will step in and save your dog just in the nick of time. How I wish it were true that every single animal that sits in a kill shelter would be saved from taking their final breath waiting for a forever home that never materialized.

If you truly love your animal and can’t keep them for whatever reason, I ask that you do everything in your power to find them a loving forever home. As a volunteer at an animal shelter, I can tell you that the most beautiful, loving, trustworthy, friendly animals in our communities are losing their lives there; don’t fool yourself into believing that they only euthanize feeble old animals. Everyone is fair game, and everyone needs to be moved along to make room for the new batch of animals that are constantly coming through the shelter doors.

The shelters will tell you what can we do? We have no choice but to euthanize, this is a problem created by society, we’re cleaning up their mess by destroying these animals. Shelters will continue doing business this way. It’s up to us as citizens to step up to the plate and take care of our animals until they are old. There isn’t a day that goes by that they don’t give us every ounce of love that is inside of them -- they run to the door to happily greet us when we get home from work, they cheer us up on our saddest days, and they are happy to share every minute of their lives with us.

Don’t turn your back on your animal and betray them by dumping them at a shelter that kills animals.

Patty Jackson

Letter to the Editor: Infanticide

Dear Editor:

It should be very clear by now how dark and far our country has allowed itself to fall by worshiping at the altar of infanticide. The blood lust is sickening.

This on so many levels grieves me. When, where and how our heavenly father chooses to deal with this abomination, we better not get in his way, including myself. These are defenseless human babies, not farm animals. Not only is this vile and insane, but barbaric.

I believe when God’s righteous wrath is unleashed, not even prayer is going to make a difference. This is a warning -- turn back from these evil decisions before it’s too late.

Angel Cortes

Rising crime? We're getting a wall and guard tower

It’s good to be rich.

In 2020, The Case, Malibu’s first gated community in more than 20 years, will be opening up. Each of the new homes will have a price tag of $40 million to $60 million, six-foot walls and given the increase in robberies in this area, the community will feature a 24-hour guard tower.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Data from the LAPD’s West L.A. Division, which covers Brentwood and Pacific Palisades, burglaries are up 14 percent over the same period in 2017 and up 41 percent over 2016, and the prospect of a 24-hour guard gains appeal.”

Also on the list of new gated communities are The Mountain in Beverly Hills; Park Bel Air property across from the Beverly Hills Hotel and Beverly Park, which is home to Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington and Sumner Redstone; and Brentwood Country Estates off Mandeville Canyon Road, where Arnold Schwarzenegger lives. Tom Brady and wife Gisele Bundchen lived there before they sold their home to Dr. Dre for $40 million in 2014.

The Bel Air Crest and Mulholland Estates are also famed for housing A-listers (Jennifer Lawrence purchased Jessica Simpson’s Mulholland Estates home for $8.2 million in 2014) as are several developments in Calabasas like the Oaks, a double-gated community where the Kardashians, Drake and Justin Bieber have resided.

What about the rest of us? Crime is also on the rise in East L.A., South Central, all of Los Angeles County, the Central Valley, and throughout California.

Crime is on the rise because many like the rich, liberal elite vote for soft-on-crime proposals like Proposition 47. That ballot measure reduced many drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer talks candidly about the impact of Proposition 47: “There’s an individual we have arrested 83 times since Prop 47 has passed, all on petty thefts, 83 times. That’s their job, that’s their career, they’re emboldened to do it because there’s no consequences.”

But those nice folks in Malibu voted to support Prop. 47 in a big way, by about 75 percent [3,303 yes – 1,200 no]. In the other proposed and guarded communities, the folks in Beverly Hills voted to support Prop. 47, three to one [4,650 yes – 2,225 no].

Why do the rich keep voting for measures that make it easier for criminals? The rich have the luxury to deal with the possible effects. They can protect their families from behind their gates and walls and protection by armed guards.

Again, what about all the rest of us?

What about the working families or single parents who can’t afford to live in these gated communities, with six-foot walls or armed guards? The middle and working class, who go in and out each day to support their family, feed and clothe their kids, and are just trying to get ahead in life. What about those people who are sick and tired of dealing with shoplifters, having their car broken into, and seeing drug addicts shooting up in public places?

The rich get to either make or influence the laws, by using their money to convince the rest of the state how to vote and no matter how it turns out, these elite, then get to protect themselves from any dire consequences.

Raul Riesgo is a commentator who has been featured on Spanish language news outlets Telemundo and Mundo Fox News discussing both political and Latino community issues. Follow him on Twitter @rariesgo

Letter to the Editor: Dennis Prager's willful ignorance

Dear Editor:

I just read Dennis Prager's article, a rant against leftists that somehow has something to do with the wall. The article is nothing but hot air.

From what I've heard the Democrats are not opposed to modern effective border security. In many parts of the border a wall would be useless; drones and more patrols would be much more effective. Prager should know that that's what the Democrats support.

In Prager's telling the Democrats are silly people. No, he looks pretty silly for being pathetically uninformed. Just a cursory search online reveals that in Texas for certain and other border locations as well, many landowners are opposed to the federal government's plan to confiscate parts of their property via eminent domain for the purpose of building the wall, storing materials, etc. They have organized and will take the federal government to court, and that opposition and those court proceedings will outlast Trump's term in office.

The Democrats as a whole and Republicans whose congressional districts run along the border know this wall business is a fiasco and will never be built. Why doesn't Dennis Prager know it?

Muriel Schuerman

Letter to the Editor: Political poetry

Dear Editor:

The House once shining on the hill
is now entrenched with many ills
A place where jokers now preside
And haughty queens now rule inside

Spewing profanity for all to hear
No respect and honor here.
Where apathetic kings beguiled
Along with others laugh and smile.

The wall’s immoral the jokers shout
ICE and barriers we can do without.
Bring your drugs and criminals too
With open borders we welcome you.

Hopefully soon the “know-it-alls”
Like a deck of cards will fall
And President Trump can build our wall.

Martha Morrissy

Letter to the Editor: Lakewood Boulevard

Dear Editor:

Just wanted to thank the people responsible for all the nice work that was completed on Lakewood Boulevard from Gallatin to Telegraph.

I noticed that the light under the freeway bridge is a bit dim, not sure if lights were replaced but maybe they can be replaced to be a little brighter.

I also have another issue: the lane that is a non-passing lane going towards Telegraph causes lots of grief during traffic time. Maybe if CalTrans or the traffic department can put soft pylons on there so traffic will not pass through there. This causes road rage, and even sometimes more people disobeying the traffic laws.

Otherwise the work was done very nicely and quickly. Thanks again.

M. Contreras

Letter to the Editor: Alzheimer's legislation

Dear Editor:

I am thrilled that the President recently signed the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act into law, which will create a nationwide Alzheimer’s public health infrastructure to implement effective Alzheimer’s interventions.

I am greatly pleased that Senators Feinstein and Harris and Congresswoman Roybal-Allard have proven records as supporting issues related to the Alzheimer’s crisis and each supported BOLD.

The BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act will create the change necessary for those living with the disease and their caregivers to live a higher quality of life while reducing the costs associated with Alzheimer’s. BOLD would enable us to increase early detection and diagnosis, reduce risk, prevent avoidable hospitalizations, reduce health disparities, support the needs of caregivers and support care planning for those living with this disease.

This legislation is particularly important to our Downey community: in California, Alzheimer’s is the third leading cause of death-- as opposed to the rest of the country in which Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death. Our city is home to a beautifully diverse population, and we need to ensure data is collected so we can create programs to serve everyone.

Latinos/Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and African Americans are twice as likely. Women are two-thirds of those diagnosed— and women are two-thirds of all caregivers as well. No one is immune to Alzheimer’s, a disease which cannot be prevented or cured.

Last week week our leaders in Washington, D.C., took on one of this nation’s greatest health challenges, Alzheimer’s disease, and passed legislation into law that will greatly affect those facing this devastating disease. Thank you.

Bruce McDaniel

Letter to the Editor: Proof we landed on the moon

Dear Editor:

In response to Mike Sandoval’s recent letter (“Moon Landing Denier,” 12/26/18) and his yearly July letter denying the moon landing, there is plenty of evidence that proves that it really did happen.

There are two main concrete pieces of evidence: pictures of the moon landing sites and the moon rocks brought back.

To begin with, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter that launched in 2009 has taken pictures of the Apollo landing sites and other countries’ space agencies (China, India, Japan) have spotted that same sites with their own satellites.

The second solid evidence comes from the 382 kilograms of moon rocks and that was brought back from the Apollo 11 mission and given to 135 other countries. Multiple tests were performed that confirmed they were of lunar origin.

This was later confirmed in the 1970’s when the Soviet Union’s Luna unmanned spacecraft brought back a third of one kilogram of rocks back to Earth and shared samples with international scientists that confirmed the same characteristics of the moon rocks brought back by Apollo 11.

There is other evidence of the Apollo 11 mission: such as explaining the more common topics of the pictures, such as why the US flag appears to be waving, why no stars appear in the background and the shadows, but I figured the best evidence to prove the Apollo 11 moon landing was through the concrete evidence I explained: the pictures of the landing sites from other independent space agencies and the moon rocks.

All the facts are there, but I am interested to hear Mr. Sandoval’s theories regarding the independent space agencies’ pictures and the moon rocks.

Guillermo Vazquez

Letter to the Editor: Universal healthcare

Dear Editor:

A good friend of mine said that for her, politics starts with the question “What sort of society do we want to live in?” For me, universal healthcare is an important component of that society.

In 2011, a report on the availability of healthcare in various countries ranked the United States as 33rd, behind Mexico. Of the 32 countries ranked higher than the United States, 27 of them provided 99% of their population with some form of health insurance.

While many of us in the United States have decent health insurance, a significant percentage do not. Many with serious illnesses have to choose between bankruptcy or receiving no treatment. Why is this acceptable in America?

The Affordable Care Act was meant to remedy this shameful situation. The act, passed in 2010, was a compromise, based on the conservative concept of an individual mandate first proposed by the Heritage Foundation in 1989. This concept was the conservative alternative to a single-payer system. How ironic that today a conservative judge has used this very mandate as a basis for striking down the entire act.

The World Health Organization describes universal healthcare as a situation where citizens can access health services without incurring financial hardship. Universal healthcare is not some evil boogieman. It exists throughout the industrialized world. Medicare, established in 1965, goes a long way to providing this universal healthcare for seniors, and is very successful and popular.

The ACA has expanded medical coverage in the United States. The percentage of people without health insurance fell from 16.0% in 2010 to 8.9% in June 2016, adding coverage for 23 million people. This in spite of rising premium costs, much of which have been driven by repeated attempts by the Republican-controlled legislature to sabotage the law.

Let’s stop the wrecking-ball, join the rest of the industrialized world, and work to create universal healthcare, health care for all.

Frank Kearns

Letter to the Editor: Christmas display

Dear Editor:

Doing Christmas displays is not new to me; after all, I’ve lived in Downey since 1961 and have been decorating my own house since the age of 10 years.

Over the years I had some very impressive displays at 7920 Melva Street. I was the first to create a 40-channel, 4,000 light, electronic Christmas tree and the only one to put the vintage C-9 bulbs in motion way back in 1989.

Being innovative comes second to nature for me, but this year it was time to lend some of that know-how to my sister’s display at 7614 Yankey. If you have not seen it this year, you should do so. It’s all new and quite a crowd pleaser.

I really pulled out all the stops this year by installing three computerized singing Christmas trees right up on the edge of the roof. Because of their very large size, special consideration had to be taken in bracing them to handle the big gusty winds we get every year.

And with her tile roof, that was a huge challenge since I could not screw them down. I designed a clever mechanical lock system to lock them in tight right under the tiles - no screws whatsoever.

Each singing tree is comprised of almost 200 addressable RGB LEDs. Timing sequences have to be programmed on the main computer inside the house to make each tree’s mouth sync to the music. Then the data is sent out serially over a CAT 5 cable to a network of controllers behind the trees. Each tree needs to receive the correct digital address from the main computer to light up the corresponding LED on the face of the tree to make it sing.

All this data is flying around at the speed of light to those trees, so fast you can’t tell each LED is actually being turned on one at a time!

Then for your listening pleasure, Christmas music is piped in stereo out to your car. The sound track is broadcasted on 100.7 FM plus outside over speakers at a soft level not to disturb the neighbors.

To give the display some sparkle, there are 250 strobe lights 25 feet in the air complemented by 4000 blue LEDs gracefully draped throughout the trees.

And finally, to add some electronic pizzazz to those trees, I hung thirty 10 inch, 300 white LED spheres from the trees and synchronized them to the music too. Besides all the new electronics stuff is a well done nativity scene plus other Christmas icons spread out the display. It takes about a full month to put it all up.

Please stop by and enjoy the best lights of the season in Downey!

Larry Osterhoudt

Letter to the Editor: Political role model

Dear Editor:

With the passage of George H.W. Bush, the country lost a great and decent leader.

His civility in his public and private life was legendary and his actions are something that the current crop of politicians would do well to emulate. His legacy will stand the test of time.

I am hopeful that another similar leader will emerge in the not-to-distant future so that the country can continue in its path to grandeur.

Jorge Montero

OP-ED: Don't leave the American Legion behind

Photo by Brian Heyman

Photo by Brian Heyman

While the nation was mourning the death of WWII Naval Aviator and 41st President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush, the building housing the American Legion Post 723 in Hollydale was demolished by Los Angeles County, which owns the parcel in Downey, to make way for a proposed veterans' housing project.

The flag flying at half-mast in front of the building to honor our former Commander-in Chief was sadly apropos, as bulldozers brought down the walls of a place where so many local veterans of our wars have gathered since the Hollydale Post was established in the 1940's.

For all intents and purposes, the demolition of the building is akin to the death of American Legion Post 723. The contents of the building were removed by its members and transferred to storage before demolition, but without a permanent meeting place to gather, it is unlikely the post will survive.

Downey's American Legion Post 270 meets on the third Tuesday of the month in the Sizzler Restaurant on Lakewood Blvd. at 7 p.m., but it is struggling from declining membership. Its remaining members are still active in Downey by supporting both the Veteran's Day ceremony at City Hall and the Memorial Day ceremony at the Downey Cemetery, but in declining numbers every year unfortunately.

Veterans of our military conflicts in the 21st century don't seem to be interested in joining the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign Wars, as almost everyone did after service during WWII, the Korean War or the Vietnam War. This isn't isolated to Downey; American Legion and VFW posts across the country struggle with declining membership.

Downey honors the active duty service of our citizen soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen through the military banners posted along Firestone Boulevard. It also honors veterans of all of the branches of the military through the beautiful veterans memorials in the Civic Center, and at the niche wall in the Cemetery.

There is also a memorial to the young Downey men killed in Vietnam in the plaza of the Downey Theatre.

Downey has another veteran's service group which is doing good things in our City, as well as for "at promise" students at Columbus High School. It's called "Courage Forward."

Courage Forward is a non-profit whose members are primarily veterans of the War on Terror. They are young, idealistic, enthusiastic and ambitious. The group came together initially as a social club of sorts, but with the vision and leadership of then council candidate and now Mayor Rick Rodriguez, it has evolved into a strong service group and force for good in Downey.

With the demise of Hollydale American Legion Post 723 and the declining membership of Downey American Legion Post 270, Courage Forward has an opportunity to join forces with these service groups to make them stronger.

Military combatants have a credo they are all willing to die for: "No one left behind" on the battlefield.

I pray and hope that members of the American Legion in Downey aren't left behind.

Brian Heyman is a United States Air Force veteran and member of American Legion Post 270.

Letter to the Editor: Boycotting the Downey Theatre

Dear Editor:

I was both disappointed and disgusted to read in the Downey Patriot that VenueTech was given another 3-year contract to manage the Downey Theater. It is an epic mistake that just keeps getting worse.

I applaud Mr. Lawrence Christon for his detailed and articulate article in the Patriot. Downey’s naive needs-more-marketing approach completely misses the point. City council thinks that VenueTech will help solve the problem when VenueTech is the problem.

What a wonderful Christmas present it would have been for all of us had Downey announced that they were going to bring in an ethical, reputable, responsible theater management company. Then we might see revitalization occur, as well as the potential return of our beloved Downey Civic Light Opera. Instead, we get three more years of oblivion.

All of this leaves one question to be asked. Who is collecting the payoffs and kickback that keeps this awful company in place?

My boycott continues.

Mike Sanburn

Letter to the Editor: City Council encounter

Dear Editor:

I would like to report an encounter I had with Downey city council-elect Claudia Frometa, and let the reader form an opinion on its content.

I had written an op-ed piece for The Downey Patriot about what we lose when candidates for public office don’t hold public debates, which not only give us an insight into their ideas, beliefs policies and breadth of experience, but show how well they deal with the pressure of having to think on their feet in an unpredictable, challenging environment.

The candidates in question were Frometa and Carrie Uva. Both were running for the 4th District seat of Fernando Vasquez, who is termed out this year and whose purview includes the downtown region, crucial to the social, cultural and commercial life of the city. Failure to debate allowed them, as I put it in the article, to hide behind the “platitudinous drivel” of carefully edited PR statements.

Frometa won the vote.

I was sitting in an aisle seat during the November 13th city council meeting when Frometa sought me out. We had never met or communicated before.

“I take exception to what you wrote in the Patriot,” she said, jabbing an accusatory finger toward my sternum. “I have a background in journalism. What you wrote is irresponsible.”

Naturally, I was taken aback by this unexpected and aggressive stance.

“Where did you work in journalism?” I asked.

“Never mind that,” she replied. “What you did was wrong.”

“How so?”

“You didn’t talk to me privately before you wrote the piece.”

“I wasn’t obliged to. It was an op ed opinion piece, not a news article that requires reportage. What would you have said that wasn’t in your PR statements. Why didn’t you debate?”

“Never mind,” she replied. “What you did was irresponsible.” She walked away.

This was the full extent of our conversation. I thought about it afterward and wondered about her background in journalism. Why wouldn’t she reveal where she worked? How is it she didn’t know the crucial difference between editorial opinion and news story and where a writer’s responsibility lies on each. Finally, after I had made the case, however briefly, she insisted that I was still irresponsible.

What does this tell you? Let’s see: she’s evasive about her background. In not presenting a cogent argument, and not acknowledging a counter-argument, she showed that she’s someone who doesn’t listen. That she took umbrage at an article that was not a personal attack indicates that she may be too thin-skinned for public office, or at least naively unaware of the realities she’ll be facing.

We’ll never know if those qualities may have come out had there been a public debate or two with her opponents. But I for one have had a preview of what we may have to deal with in the coming years. It’s not a promising start.

Lawrence Christon