Plain Jane Bandit arrested in Downey

DOWNEY - The Plain Jane Bandit, suspected of robbing or attempting to rob at least eight banks during the month of July, was identified last week as Downey resident Sylvia Helen Garcia, FBI officials said.Acting on a tip, Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies and an FBI agent arrested Garcia, 38, on Aug. 2 near her apartment complex on Stewart & Gray Road. Authorities said Garcia was driving a silver vehicle that matched the description provided by witnesses. FBI officials said they also recovered "additional evidence tying Garcia to the bank robberies," though they were not specific. Garcia is suspected of a crime spree that began July 12 when she allegedly held up a U.S. Bank in Santa Fe Springs. Exactly one week later she allegedly robbed a U.S. Bank in Whittier. She is accused of then heading to Moreno Valley, where she knocked off two banks on July 23. Authorities say she then hit two banks - in Buena Park and Wildomar - on July 24 and a Bank of America in Downey on July 30. Her last bank robbery came July 31 at a Chase bank in Cerritos, authorities alleged. Garcia is currently being held at the Lakewood Sheriff's Station and was formally charged with bank robbery on Monday. Garcia was dubbed the Plain Jane Bandit after a witness described her appearance "as that of a plain Jane." Surveillance videos showed that Garcia apparently made little attempt to disguise her appearance. The bank robberies garnered broad media attention, including a segment on ABC's "World News Tonight." The intense media coverage led to numerous tips from the public, investigators said.

********** Published: August 09, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 17

Rancho retirees plan reunion

DOWNEY - Retirees of Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center will reunite for a luncheon Sept. 12 at Cafe Amigos in the hospital's Supper Services Annex.All retirees and friends are welcome as the group's celebrate Rancho's history and ongoing work in medical rehabilitation. Cost is $20 and seating is limited. Payment by check or money order must be received by Aug. 31. Payments should be sent to Lorraine Robinson, 7834 Lyndora St., Downey CA 90242. For more information, call Dorothy Biby at (562) 861-2166 or Sandy Delahoussaye-Bonds at (626) 814-0421.

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Taste of Downey to have beer garden, art and more

DOWNEY - Tickets are now on sale for the Taste of Downey Arts & Wine Festival, taking place Sept. 20 in the Civic Center.This year's Taste of Downey - now in its third year - will feature several local restaurants, an art show featuring work from Downey artists, a contained beer and wine area, and live entertainment by classic rock group The Answer. Tickets are $20 and include 10 "tastes" from participating restaurants. The price increases to $25 on the day of the event. Anyone who purchases tickets before Aug. 25 will be entered into a raffle to win two show tickets for the 2012-13 season at the Downey Civic Theatre. Tickets can be purchased online at downeytheatre.com, at the theater box office or by calling (562) 861-8211. For more information about the event, go to downeyca.org/taste. Interested restaurants should call (562) 904-7151.

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Restaurant marks one year

DOWNEY - The Downey Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Marketplace Grill on Wednesday at 5 p.m. to mark the restaurant's one-year anniversary.The Marketplace Grill is at 7877 Florence Ave.

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Nonprofit leader to speak

DOWNEY - Bob Varden, outreach coordinator of Food Help, an organization that provides food to people in need, will be guest speaker at the Downey Coordinating Council meeting on Sept. 5.The meeting starts at 11:30 a.m. at the Barbara J. Riley Community and Senior Center.

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Golfers raising money for cancer research

DOWNEY - The sixth annual Elizabeth Miller Memorial Golf Tournament takes place Aug. 15 at the Rio Hondo Golf Club with all proceeds benefitting the Ovarian Cancer Orange County Alliance for ovarian cancer awareness.Cost is $150 for 18 holes of golf, on-course contests and an awards dinner, or $30 for dinner only. Sponsorships range from $100 to $6,000. The tournament is limited to 144 golfers and is open to all skill levels. To sign-up or for more information, call Gene Miller at (562) 896-5481 or (714) 884-4081.

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Free admission at space center Aug. 26

DOWNEY - In honor of her foundation's 20th anniversary, philanthropist Dr. Mary Stauffer is sponsoring a free admission day at the Columbia Memorial Space Center on Aug. 26.From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., anyone can visit the space center at no charge. The Mary R. Stauffer Foundation is a strong support of academics, having provided thousands of scholarships to students in the Downey Unified School District. The foundation also funds numerous programs for local schools and community organizations. For more information about the free event, call the space center at (562) 231-1200.

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Time running out to apply for commission

DOWNEY - Local high school students have until Aug. 10 to apply to serve on the Downey Youth Commission, an advisory body to the City Council.The commission meets monthly throughout the school year to learn about city projects, plan activities, discuss youth topics and participate in community events. To be eligible, applicants must live in Downey and be enrolled in a high school. Applications are posted online at downeyca.org. They must be turned in no later than 4 p.m. on Aug. 10 to the City Clerk's office at City Hall. For questions or more information, call (562) 904-7238.

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Downey High class of '57 reuniting

DOWNEY - Downey High School's class of 1957 will hold its 55th reunion Oct. 13 at the Rio Hondo Event Center.Tickets are $60 per person if purchased before Sept. 13 or $65 afterward, and includes a three-course dinner and no-host bar. A campus tour will take place Oct. 12 at 3 p.m. and a section of the football stadium will be set aside for those wishing to attend the football game against Gahr High School. An informal "sports reunion" will be held at the Embassy Suites before and after the game. In a departure from past reunions, rather than focus on the school's well-chronicled athletic achievements, the class will commemorate its scholastic achievements by honoring three classmates who perished in a tragic automobile accident a few months prior to graduation. Mary Monroe, Pat Read and Rick Moore (class of 1956) were class leaders and scholars, all three planning to continue their educations through academic scholarships. Because of their deep shared interest in journalism, a one-time scholarship will be awarded to a Downey High student looking to pursue a career in journalism. For more information on the reunion, contact Anne (Connor) Rank at rankac@cox.net or (949) 643-3970 or Kay (Wilde) Cofield at krcofield@gmail.com or (562) 594-4277.

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Victory with honor

Dear Editor:Every four years an event happens that showcases America's best: the Olympics. Our athletes dedicate their lives training and making daily sacrifices with one goal in mind: to qualify for the opportunity to represent the United States in the Olympic Games. Our athletes must comply to the strict standards and rules set forth by the Olympic Committee to qualify for each event. They are tested for drugs and are responsible to pay for their training and travel expenses. They must show good sportsmanship, cheating will result in disqualification or forfeiture of their medal. The judges and media are expected to do their jobs accurately and without bias; they know the world is watching. Our athletes are chosen solely on their qualifications, not looks, personality or financial status. All this they do proudly to win the gold and to represent their country, to hear their national anthem played and see their flag raised above the rest. Win or lose, they gained our respect and earned their place in Olympic history. Thank you, athletes, for pursuing victory with honor. Every four years another much anticipated event occurs in this nation. Wouldn't it be nice if our politicians were held to the same standards as our athletes. The world is watching and like our athletes, they too represent the United States of America. Linda Ruvolopez Downey

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NASA hoax

Dear Editor:Another July 29 has passed and NASA still will not show us a close-up photo of any of the moon-landers. Forty-three years have passed and not one close-up. Brian Williams on the NBC Nightly News showed us two photos 80 miles high up. Reasonable doubt? Right! Mike Sandoval Downey

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Bike racks

Dear Editor:There is an increased amount of people that ride bikes in Downey but there aren't any bike racks. If we want to be environmentally friendly, the city of Downey should encourage the use of bicycles and should put in bike racks at Downey establishments. Lauren Cooper Downey

********** Published: August 09, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 17

Hot topics

Dear Editor:I've noticed that the two hot topics in Letters to the Editor are Chick-Fil-A and gun control. When I read Mr. Rangel's letter, I was disgusted that he would close down Chick-Fil-A, a successful private business, and cause many to lose much needed jobs and cities loss of revenue. But now I'm grateful to Mr. Rangel, Mayor Bloomberg and Rham Emanuel, who because of their intolerance, have awakened a "sleeping giant" - the Christians. My church has already had a Chick-Fil-A dinner and it was delicious! I've heard of the long lines and that Chick-Fil-A had the best sales day ever. God will not be mocked. His Word endures. We need to respond kindly to those who disagree with us and expect the same from them. Interesting that Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Emanuel have suddenly changed their minds. Emanuel stated that Chick-Fil-A's values don't fit in with Chicago's values. It's difficult to discern his values, since he welcomed Louis Farrakhan to Chicago, who has made scathing comments against homosexuals. I wonder how many of those who participated in the "kiss in," or whatever it was called, were born from same-sex couples? Regarding gun control: I believe there should be some control over assault rifles, but that anyone who desires to own a gun for protection, hunting, etc. should be allowed to. We do have the 2nd Amendment and it should be protected. Some believe that gun ownership should be done away with, but consider Chicago, which has the strongest gun control laws in the U.S. and has the highest murder rate in the U.S. If someone is evil or deranged, they will find a way to kill. Remember anthrax? No guns involved there. Right now Israel is not only concerned with bombs and guns, but with chemical warfare. It amazes me that those who would do away with gun ownership haven't written a Letter to the Editor re "Fast and Furious," in which the Obama administration's attorney general, Eric Holder, allowed guns to be sent to the drug cartels in Mexico causing the deaths of more than 2,000 in Mexico and one U.S. Border Patrol agent. Elsa Van Leuven Downey

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Welcome Chick-Fil-A

Dear Editor:I welcome the Chick-Fil-A restaurant to Downey! I hear the food is great and so is the service. On these conditions I will rate the restaurant and not on a statement of beliefs from the proprietor. Thankfully, in America one has freedom of speech, freedom of religion and has the freedom to live in an area that better supports his/her beliefs. As for me, I like our really-not-so-sleepy city of Downey and have noticed many favorable changes in the 25 years that I have lived here. Martha Call Downey

Dear Editor: The owner of that company quoted the Bible and he believes certain verses. The gay folks should not be so enraged about the owner. The Bible also teaches to love his neighbors and enemies. Christians are not to judge others. That is God's business. We are all sinners and I have to pray to God about mine. Discrimination is against the law, free speech is not. Dieter Oltersdorf Downey

Dear Editor: Chick-Fil-A does not donate money to organizations that support hate. That is a fallacy. Yes, they have been very vocal about their support of the Biblical definition of marriage and do support causes that support traditional family values but that is not hate. That is freedom of speech, freedom of religion and free enterprise, and those values are what this nation stands on. Last month, company president Dan Cathy gave an interview to the Biblical Recorder newspaper, which was re-published in the Baptist Press, quoting Cathy as say, "Well, guilty as charged," when asked about the company's support of the traditional family. "We are very much supportive of the family - the Biblical definition of the family unit," Cathy said. "We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that." If same sex marriage supporters choose not to support this establishment, well then, so be it. But don't call the rest of the people who support the biblical definition of marriage intolerant, hateful bigots. Tolerance is a two-way street. Apparently, Christians are supposed to tolerate everyone else and their beliefs but when it comes to tolerating Christian beliefs, Christians become the target and are considered intolerant, homophobic bigots if their beliefs are not in agreement with all other groups. Chick-Fil-A has not said they hate homosexuals. Mr. Cathy has simply expressed their family-owned Christian-based values and there is no crime in that. I wish same sex supporters would respect and tolerate those that don't support their views. This outrage over Mr. Cathy's beliefs and who his company chooses to support is intolerant and un-American. Enough said. Claudia Marroquin-Frometa Downey

Dear Editor: We are privileged to live in a nation that allows us freedom. Because a businessman exercises his rights to freedom of speech and religion, his business is accused of hate and inequality. Mr. Cathy was vocal about his beliefs. He expressed that his principles are Biblically rooted, gave some opinions and his thoughts on today's generation. He also said that he credits his business success to his adherence to these principles. Mr. Cathy never mentioned anything about hate, equality factors or that his restaurant was only going to serve a select group of people. As a matter of fact, he said his principles were not that of his business. The wonderful thing about this gift we know as freedom is that it allows us all rights. We make choices and decisions based on what we believe. We all have opinions. Right or wrong we should always be quick to own them. One should always be willing to stand for their principles and if this brings accusations of discrimination against them, then the question must be raised, "who really is the hater?" The simple anecdote here is "respect." Having respect for our fellow man's beliefs. Because a person's views differ from another or one vocalizes his beliefs does not make one a "hater." It is the way one receives another's view or beliefs that determines who the hater really is. I must do my own self justice and say that my principles are also Biblically rooted and I stand for my beliefs. Simply put, I believe in a living God who gave His son for my sins. I believe in a Heaven as much as I believe in Hell. Now you can call me a fanatic, a hater or even a discriminator but I know I am not any of these. I am one individual who is blessed to still have freedom and the ability to exercise my rights. Nellie Cantillo Downey

Dear Editor: When did stating your core values equate to promotion of hate and discrimination? Also, I wonder if using the corrupt and crime ridden city of Chicago as a model for Downey is a good idea. I have enjoyed a couple sandwiches over the years at Chick-Fil-A and they are pretty good. Let's bring them in to Downey - Lord knows we have plenty of Mexican food here. Randy Downey Downey

********** Published: August 09, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 17

Mourning the mural

Dear Editor:Downey High's mosaic could have been saved. Downey city leadership chose otherwise, essentially an act of legalized vandalism. Though the mural was designed by one artist, the extraordinary Charlotte Von Troesch, it was created by many -- the students and residents of Downey. Because these things were done collectively as a way of expressing community, we were taught that it was about sharing and displaying civic pride. The destruction and disregard of cultural assets is commonplace. Destroying a symbol of our community, however, is quite another. It's too late to rescue the mosaic. But it is not too late for Downey's city hall leadership. Please don't let it happen again. On a personal note, I knew Charlotte. As an artist, she was tremendously talented, prodigious and generous. As a human being she was larger than life. She could have lived and thrived anywhere in the world. Yet she chose to live in Downey. I mourned our loss when she passed away. It seems I have to mourn her loss again. David Tseklenis Downey

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Investigate Downey

Dear Editor:I wonder why the administrators of the city of Downey are not investigated like the city of Bell. Why are the roads all broken, like Lakewood Boulevard between Florence and Telegraph, and Firestone Boulevard and Telegraph Road? I think they collect a lot of money from the mega mansions built years ago until now. Plus many businesses are coming to Downey. Please say something. Agustina Jorge Downey

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Jobs in Downey

Dear Editor:I was raised in Downey, my husband was born and raised in Downey, and we are raising our children here. We go to church, shop, work and play in Downey. But as with many people in today's economy, I'm in the position of needing a job. In today's tough job market an opportunity for employment should generate some excitement. That's what I thought before I started applying for the few job openings I was able to find throughout Downey and its surrounding cities. I've applied at the major retailers like Macy's and Penney's but have been turned away because of no retail experience. I've also done just about all the online job seeking websites. My frustration is that in the months that I have been on the job search circuit, I've seen new establishments opening in our city, but there have been no "Help Wanted" signs in the windows. And those that do have signs refer me to their websites which don't even list a Downey location as an option. It's very discouraging that employment opportunities with all these new places that are (and soon will be) opening in Downey are not made available to residents of our city. With all the hubbub of bringing businesses here, why are the residents not given an opportunity to be a part of that growth? If we get jobs outside the city, our shopping dollars may be going there as well as we run our errands at lunchtime or right after work. As concerned as the city is about bringing in new business, I think Downey should be concerned about the stability of its residents by making sure that new businesses advertise their staffing needs first within the city so that Downey residents are given first crack at all these new jobs. Amy Fiala Downey

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Keep Downey Fire local

Dear Editor:While I was serving on the City Council in the 1990s, a situation parallel with a current one regarding Downey's Fire Department arose. The city was experiencing a recession and the union representing the firefighters requested that the city disband our fire department and contract with the county for fire protection. The union representative argued that it would save the city money. Also, it was divulged, that the county pay scale and fringe benefit package was better for the firemen and that they could possibly work at fire stations closer to their homes. They threatened to propose a ballot measure for the citizens to vote for the county fire option. Our council unanimously rejected the request and voted to place on the ballot a charter amendment requiring a 2/3 majority vote before the city could convert to county fire or police protection. The measure was approved by over 85 percent of the voters. In a recent 3-2 vote, the current City Council illustrated that it did not understand Downey's basic DNA. Since its inception in the late 50s, and as set forth in its charter adopted in 1960, Downey has been a "full service" city. It has had full control over its own police and fire protection, community service and recreation, library, public works, etc. Volunteers who worked on city projects also helped build our own hospital, develop our excellent school system and helped operate numerous non-profit organizations that have maintained the quality of life in our great city. The council was wrong to vote for a study to develop data on the county's view of the benefits to be derived if the city converted to county fire service. To spend time and money for such a useless study will give false hope to the fire union leaders. Downey citizens surely would vote to reject our converting to county fire service. Our fire department has many quality personnel - I know many of them. If some would prefer not to work for our local department, please move on elsewhere and make room for the numerous top notch applicants who will jump at the chance to take your place in Downey. The chance of Downey disbanding its fire department is nil! Bob Brazelton Former mayor and councilman Downey

********** Published: August 09, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 17

Paging Dr. Frischer - Chocolate

I am fortunate in my professional life: I have the perfect receptionist! She is highly skilled and has been working with me since the beginning of my career. Most importantly, though, when sweets invariably find their way into our office, she's a milk chocolate fanatic and I much prefer dark. I am not nearly as fortunate at home with my wife and daughters, where we all fight over the dark chocolate.I've addressed the benefits of eating chocolate in earlier columns. I've also addressed many aspects of the darker side of refined sugar, and what interests me today is the extensive research available on the effect of sugar on the brain. Overeating, poor memory formation, learning disorders, depression - all have been linked in recent research to the overconsumption of sugar. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American consumes over 150 pounds of sweeteners per year (including some that goes to waste). The math is simple: picture almost a three-pound bag per person every week. Consider that going back to the 1800's, the average consumption was five pounds per person per year! The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that refined sugar represents nearly one-fourth of the total calories consumed every day. Our brains are very, very picky. Most of us have experienced the buzz of a sugar high and the low of a sugar crash. While our brain needs sugar to function, it doesn't need nearly as much as we provide, and it runs best on a steady supply. When our blood sugar level falls, our hypothalamus sends out a distress signal that results in the release of adrenaline to the liver, causing it to turn excess fat into glucose. When the opposite happens and our blood sugar level rises, the pancreas pumps out insulin to remove the sugar from the blood and nudge that extra sugar into our cells. Too much insulin can deplete normal glucose levels, deprive the brain and other organs of energy, depress the immune system, and may lead to kidney disease. Excess insulin also promotes fat storage. Either extreme can leave us feeling woozy, nervous, fatigued, and shaky. What are the best sources of sugar for the brain? Fruit sugars enter the bloodstream at a steady rate as the fruit digests. Other complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, also take time to break down into glucose. Refined sugar, on the other hand, goes into the blood stream rapidly and causes drastic changes. Note that artificial sweeteners have similar effects. Refined sugar as well as artificial sweeteners appear to dull the brain's mechanism that tells us when to stop eating, thereby stimulating further cravings for sugar. Interestingly, adding omega-3 fatty acids to the diet may minimize some of sugar's harmful effects. A recent UCLA study demonstrated that rats that were fed a diet high in fructose were slower in brain function, hampering memory and learning. Rats that had omega-3 fatty acids added to that high sugar diet navigated a maze much more quickly. Research also shows that a diet high in refined sugar reduces the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a brain chemical. Without this, we can't learn because we don't form new memories. This chemical is found to be low in those who have difficulty metabolizing sugar, such as diabetics. Research has also linked low BDNF levels to depression and dementia. A healthy diet provides most of our sugar from fruit, grains and other whole foods. Here are just a few concrete suggestions for cutting down on refined sugar and helping our brains to function at their best: Lay off of the sodas! This is an insidious problem - not only are they high in sugar or artificial sweeteners, but colas also contain salt, which makes us thirsty and want to drink even more soda! Eat more fiber with your sugar. Complex carbohydrates break down in the liver to form sugar. This takes a while; so complex carbs excel at providing energy for hours. Fiber also helps to curb sugar intake because it alerts the brain that we have consumed calories and don't need to eat more. Avoid processed foods. Preparing your food from the raw natural ingredients is the best option. If you do buy prepared foods, check labels for sugar content and check to see whether the grains are "whole." Use ingredients with fiber, including fruits and vegetables. If you like sugary desserts, avoid keeping them at home. Make them from scratch, or go out for them. The extra effort makes us think twice. Like most things, sugar isn't all that bad in moderation. Pay attention to what you are eating. Enjoy that chocolate, whether light or dark. Your body will thank you, and your brain will thank you. Dr. Alan Frischer is former chief of staff and former chief of medicine at Downey Regional Medical Center. Write to him in care of this newspaper at 8301 E. Florence Ave., Suite 100, Downey, CA 90240.

********** Published: August 09, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 17

FDA approves drug treatment for COPD

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week approved Tudorza Pressair for the long-term maintenance treatment of bronchospasm (narrowing of the airways in the lung) associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.COPD is a serious lung disease that makes breathing difficult. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Symptoms can include chest tightness, chronic cough, and excessive phlegm. Tudorza Pressair, a dry powder inhaler used twice daily, is a long-acting antimuscarinic agent that helps muscles around the large airways of the lungs stay relaxed to improve airflow. "COPD is a serious disease that gets worse over time," said Curtis Rosebraugh, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Office of Drug Evaluation II in FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "The availability of long-term maintenance drugs for COPD provides additional treatment options for the millions of people who suffer with this debilitating disease." The safety and efficacy of Tudorza Pressair were demonstrated in three randomized, placebo-controlled confirmatory clinical trials that included 1,276 patients ages 40 and older with a clinical diagnosis of COPD. Those treated had a smoking history of at least one pack a day for 10 years. Tudorza Pressair may cause serious side effects, including paradoxical bronchospasm, new or worsened increased pressure in the eyes (acute narrow-angle glaucoma), or new or worsened urinary retention. Tudorza Pressair should not be used as a rescue therapy to treat sudden breathing problems (acute bronchospasm) and is not recommended for people younger than 18 years. The most common side effects reported by patients using Tudorza Pressair include headache, inflammation of the nasal passage (nasopharyngitis), and cough.

********** Published: August 09, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 17