Literary group to read 'Money'

LONG BEACH - The Bixby Knolls Literary Society will discuss "Money," by Martin Amis, when it meets this Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Expo Arts Center, 4321 Atlantic Ave."Money" is the fictional story of John Self and his insatiable appetite for money, alcohol, drugs, pornography and more. According to a review by Michael A. Smith, "for those who like densely written, wildly stylish fiction that also has a point, from a writer at the top of his game, you *must* read this book!" The meeting is free to attend.

********** Published: December 8, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 34

Going bankrupt doesn't mean losing all your assets

High rates of unemployment coupled with soaring credit card debt and a slow rebound housing market continue to be the primary contributing factors for the record bankruptcy rates across the country. As the economy slowly begins to recover, the overall numbers of bankruptcy filings are expected to decrease. For individuals for whom the recovery does not come fast enough, bankruptcy may be their best option for returning to financial stability in 2012.Consumer bankruptcy comes in two basic forms, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy gives debtors an opportunity to erase their debts and to start rebuilding their credit with a clean slate. In exchange for this opportunity, the debtor may have to sell, or liquidate, some of his or her personal belongings. During a Chapter 7 filing, the bankruptcy trustee will collect any nonexempt property owned by the debtor and liquidate it in order to repay some of the debt owed to the creditors. However, in most cases, debtors filing for Chapter 7 will not lose any of their personal property, including their family home and car. This is because in California when you file for bankruptcy, deductions allow you to protect your assets. In fact, most of the time people that file for bankruptcy get to keep everything and lose nothing. Some or all assets are exempt, meaning that the bankruptcy court cannot take them in order to help pay off the bankruptcy filer's debt; this is not so in other states. In other states, bankruptcy filers do not get the deduction that are available in California. California has two systems that dictate what property the bankruptcy court can and cannot take away from you during bankruptcy; the law can be found under California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 703 and 704. Anyone going through bankruptcy must choose only one of the two options for exemptions. If you have equity in your home, you may wish to use the exemptions provided under Section 704. Under this section, the following assets are among those exempt: up to $75,000 in the value of real property if single and not disabled, $100,000 if married, and $175,000 if 65 years of age or older, or disabled. Up to $2,725 in the value of a vehicle ordinary and required household furnishings and clothing up to $5,000 for jewelry, heirlooms and art. If you do not own a home or your home has no equity, consider filing under Section 703. One of the benefits of Section 703 is the all important 'wild card', unlike Section 704. A homestead exemption does exist for Section 703 but it is only $20,725. This is why homeowners with greater equity are likely to file under Section 704. However, for those with little or no equity in real property, Section 703 can be advantageous in that a bankruptcy filer can take the unused portion of the homestead exemption and use it for other property. The 'wild card' exemption is precisely as the name suggests: the exemption can be used to protect any kind of asset, up to the maximum dollar amount. In addition to these exemptions, exemptions exist for reasonable IRA retirement plans and ERISA 401k plans are typically not property of the estate, and are protected. Exemption analysis is a complex matter, and one that can 'make or break' the success of a Ch. 7 or Ch. 13 bankruptcy. California's unique system of bankruptcy exemptions is just one example of some of the complicated laws that govern bankruptcy. The summaries included in this article are not complete. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you should speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in order to more fully understand how proper exemption elections may be able to help you protect your property from the Ch. 7 or Ch. 13 trustee. The purpose of this column is to provide general information on the law, which is subject to change. It is not legal advice. Consult a lawyer if you have a specific legal problem.

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Charlene West Brindis

The angels in heaven are rejoicing, our dear, sweet Char has returned home. A warm and caring woman, she was always willing to listen with a loving heart and happy to extend a helping hand where needed. While being a good cook, she never tired of the great adventure of always being ready and willing to eat out. Her light hearted spirit and a desire to leave a legacy of God's grace to her family and loved ones, as well as, those who lovingly attended to her during her illness, is what will live in our hearts. She is now with the angels and her beloved pets, and we will never get over missing her.Charlene is survived by her loving husband of 41 years, Jim Brindis; parents Cathrine and Charles West; sisters Pat Koerner and Jeri Prahser, brother Charles W. West; sister-in-law Barbara Brindis and brother-in-law Russ Koerner and Jim P. Prahser; nephews Greg Prahser, Ronald and Douglas Koerner and one special niece Jennifer Prahser Nielsen; great-niece Nicole Koerner and great-nephews Blake Koerner and McGuiness James Nielsen. Donations may be made "In Memory of Charlene Brindis" to: Southern California Hospice Foundation, 12072 Trask Avenue, Suite 100, Garden Grove, CA 92847, or, The Downey Animal Care Shelter, 11258 South Garfield Avenue, Downey, CA 90242.

********** Published: December 8, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 34

Santa Claus to visit Del Taco

DOWNEY - Santa Claus and his wife will be at the Del Taco on Firestone Boulevard this Saturday from 12-4 p.m. for free pictures with children.Every child who takes a photo will receive a candy cane and letter from Santa. Prizes will be given away, including the grand prize of a giant stocking filled with toys. Del Taco is at 8028 Firestone Blvd.

********** Published: December 8, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 34

Christmas concert in Bellflower

BELLFLOWER - The Bellflower Civic Chorus will perform its annual winter concert, "Noel, Noel," Dec. 16-18 at the William Bristol Civic Theatre in Bellflower.Under the direction of Bill Jones, the chorus will be joined by accompanist Hani Yang, with Jan Pospisil on drums and Ruth Bandlow on keyboard. The chorus will sing traditional carols and seasonal favorites, including a first-half set of sacred carols such as "Rejoice and Sing Noel," "Immanuel" and "Star of Wonder." The audience will be asked to sing along in a few well-known Christmas carols. The program's second half includes more traditional Christmas carols, including "Winter Wonderland," "Drummer Boy" and others. Performance times are Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 17-18 at 2:30 p.m. Admission is $5.

********** Published: December 8, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 34

Film series moves to senior center

DOWNEY - The travelogue film series previously showcased at Downey High School has moved to the Barbara J. Riley Community and Senior Center.Monday matinees still start at 2 p.m. but admission tickets have dropped to $5 per person. Tickets can be purchased at the senior center starting Dec. 14 or at the door on show days. The travelogues are full-length and in color, and feature live, in-person narration by the film producer. The film schedule appears below: Jan. 30 - Pony Express: Echo of Hoofbeats - Hal McClure's journey takes you to the American frontiers used by the Pony Express. Feb. 27 - Wings Across the Channel - From the Big Bands to the magnificent steamship S.S. Catalina, the Isle of Romance holds a special place in the lore of the Golden State. March 19 - Autumn Across America - Join Don and Fran Van Polen for their detailed journey filled with great landscapes, humorous stories and inspiring music as they take you across the United States. April 23 - Soul of India - the film visits familiar sites like the Taj Mahal, the palaces and forts of Rajasthan, the Himalayas, and the River Ganges, revealing the land of villages and inner cities, a country in which one-sixth of the earth's population resides. May 14 - South and Central America - Experience a journey from Chile to Peru, Galapagos, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua with Marlin Darrah. For more information on the travelogue series, call (562) 904-7223.

********** Published: December 8, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 34

Curves gym

Members of the Curves gym on Gallatin Road donated jackets, sweaters, hats, scarves, sock and gloves to help local homeless residents keep warm during the cold winter months. By the end of the two-week drive, members had filled 37 trash bags with winter clothing. ********** Published: December 8, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 34

Library accepting food for fines

DOWNEY - During the month of December, Downey City Library patrons can clear their overdue fines while helping needy families.The library will accept new canned and packaged staple goods as payment for overdue fines on returned library materials. Volunteers with the Downey Council PTA HELPS will distribute the food to local families. "Even if you don't owe library fines, we encourage everyone to bring in food items to help local families," said circulation supervisor Josephine de la Dingco. The library will accept food for fine payments until Dec. 30. The donated value of each item is 50 cents. For more information, call the library at (562) 904-7366.

********** Published: December 8, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 34

Garcia finishes basic training

DOWNEY - Air Force Airman Andres Garcia graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.Garcia completed an eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills. He also earned four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force. A 2010 graduate of Bell Gardens High School, he is the son of Downey residents Maria and Jose Garcia.

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Open letter to people of California

When I became Governor again-28 years after my last term ended in 1983-California was facing a $26.6 billion budget deficit. It was the result of years of failing to match spending with tax revenues as budget gimmicks instead of honest budgeting became the norm.In January, I proposed a budget that combined deep cuts with a temporary extension of some existing taxes. It was a balanced approach that would have finally closed our budget gap. I asked the legislature to enact this plan and to allow you, the people of California, to vote on it. I believed that you had the right to weigh in on this important choice: should we decently fund our schools or lower our taxes? I don't know how you would have voted, but we will never know. The Republicans refused to provide the four votes needed to put this measure on the ballot. Forced to act alone, Democrats went ahead and enacted massive cuts and the first honest, on-time budget in a decade. But without the tax extensions, it was simply not possible to eliminate the state's structural deficit. The good news is that our financial condition is much better than a year ago. We cut the ongoing budget deficit by more than half, reduced the state's workforce by about 5,500 positions and cut unnecessary expenses like cell phones and state cars. We actually cut state expenses by over $10 billion. Spending is now at levels not seen since the seventies. Our state's credit rating has moved from "negative" to "stable," laying the foundation for job creation and a stronger economic recovery. Unfortunately, the deep cuts we made came at a huge cost. Schools have been hurt and state funding for our universities has been reduced by 25%. Support for the elderly and the disabled has fallen to where it was in 1983. Our courts suffered debilitating reductions. The stark truth is that without new tax revenues, we will have no other choice but to make deeper and more damaging cuts to schools, universities, public safety and our courts. That is why I am filing today an initiative with the Attorney General's office that would generate nearly $7 billion in dedicated funding to protect education and public safety. I am going directly to the voters because I don't want to get bogged down in partisan gridlock as happened this year. The stakes are too high. My proposal is straightforward and fair. It proposes a temporary tax increase on the wealthy, a modest and temporary increase in the sales tax, and guarantees that the new revenues be spent only on education. Here are the details: Millionaires and high-income earners will pay up to 2% higher income taxes for five years. No family making less than $500,000 a year will see their income taxes rise. In fact, fewer than 2% of California taxpayers will be affected by this increase. There will be a temporary 1/2 cent increase in the sales tax. Even with this temporary increase, sales taxes will still be lower than what they were less than six months ago. This initiative dedicates funding only to education and public safety-not on other programs that we simply cannot afford. This initiative will not solve all of our fiscal problems. But it will stop further cuts to education and public safety. I ask you to join with me to get our state back on track. Contributed by the office of Gov. Jerry Brown.

********** Published: December 8, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 34

Author to sign books, give lecture at space center

DOWNEY - The Columbia Memorial Space Center will host professor and author Dr. Bryan Penprase for a lecture and book-signing event Dec. 17 from 1-3 p.m.Visitors can meet Penprase and obtain an autographed copy of his new book, "The Power of Stars." Admission to the event is $5 or free for annual space center members. Penprase will present a "visual feast of astronomy with constellation maps, aerial views of aligned celestial structures and images of the universe as created by a wide range of cultures." For more information, call the space center at (562) 231-1200 or go to columbiaspacescience.org.

********** Published: December 8, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 34

Water utility company sold

DOWNEY - Park Water Company, a privately held republic water utility company based in Downey, has been bought by Western Water Holdings LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Carlyle Infrastructure Partners.The transfer of ownership was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. The sale was announced by Park Water Company on Dec. 1. "We are delighted the CPUC approved the transaction," said Christopher Schilling, co-chief executive officer of Park Water Company. "This move is in the best interests of both our customers and our dedicated employees. We will be in a better position to fulfill our responsibilities to provide quality reliable service in the future." The CPUC noted in their approval that the ownership change would not result in changes to service or rates. Park Water Company provides water to about 11 square miles in southeast Los Angeles County.

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Pearl Harbor decisions

Dear Editor:On Dec. 7, 1941, it was a terrible day in Pearl Harbor. It has been stated that 1,177 Marines and sailors died in and around the Arizona ship. But who decided to leave the Arizona underwater with the men trapped inside? Was it military or civilian or both? Also, didn't any mother and father object to leaving their son underwater in the Arizona? I'm sure some the parents wanted their sons brought back close to home. I would! I have never seen any documentary about this decision. I have never seen or heard anything about this question in the media either. -- Mike Sandoval, Downey

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City collecting toys for needy kids

DOWNEY - The city of Downey is collecting new toys for local underprivileged children.Toys will be collected until Dec. 16, with drop-off bins at City Hall, the library, the Barbara J. Riley Community and Senior Center, all Downey fire stations, all Downey public schools, and select businesses displaying a city toy collection box. Toys must be new and unwrapped. All toys will be distributed through the Downey Council PTA HELPS, the fire department and other local children's organizations.

********** Published: December 8, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 34

Last day to contribute to book drive

DOWNEY - Downey Federal Credit Union is collecting donations of new books to benefit Downey students.The book drive will continue until Dec. 9. Residents can bring new books suitable for children ages 5-8 to the main branch at 8237 3rd Street or the express service office located in the lobby of Downey Regional Medical Center. The credit union is also accepting monetary donations, which will be used to purchase new books.

********** Published: December 8, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 34

Health seminars in Cerritos

CERRITOS - Pioneer Medical Group will conduct two health-related seminars this month at the Cerritos Senior Center.On Dec. 14 at 8 a.m., Lindsay Hutchinson, P.A., will lead a lecture on osteoporosis. Hutchinson will discuss simple steps to prevent the disease and current treatment options to stop its progression. Kimberly Torees-Kebelbeck, a certified diabetes educator, will discuss diabetic retinopathy, which is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, at a lecture Dec. 28 at 1 p.m. The presentation will offer tips on reducing your risk of eye complications when you have diabetes and how to keep your eyes healthy. Both seminars are free to people ages 50 and older.

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Downey High winter concert Dec. 14

DOWNEY - Downey High School will host its annual Winter Concert this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Downey Theatre.Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the box office. All of the school's music programs will take part, including the Concert Band, Jazz Band, Jazz Choir, Beginning Choir and Advanced Choir. The concert will conclude with the sing-along Hallelujah Chorus featuring all groups.

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Rose Hills unveils new development

WHITTIER - Rose Hills Memorial Park unveiled its latest development this week - Mission Hills - which pays tribute to Our Lady of Guadalupe.The development is designed to honor California's "culture and history," officials said. As part of the unveiling, the cemetery received replica image of the Virgin, along with a stone from the original Basilica, from the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. "This image and the brick will have a special home within Mission Hills," officials said.

********** Published: December 8, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 34