Norwalk City Council candidates show their differences

The five candidates running to fill two open spots on the Norwalk City Council exchanged differing ideals on Monday, defending their records of public service during a 90-minute candidates' forum hosted by the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce. Facing an audience of more than 60 community leaders, the candidates addressed everything from redevelopment opportunities and education reforms to public safety and council term limits.

Norwalk native Enrique Aranda began the discussion dubbing himself the "good business, good jobs, and good government candidate."

"Norwalk invested in me and made this possible. I know its people and its promises," said Aranda, who serves as director of marketing and development for a private school consortium. "We need to build consensus and find innovative solutions to these problems."

From a podium placed center of two, eight-foot tables, moderators Tracy Polley of Kelco Sales and Julia Emerson of Southern California Gas Company presented seven questions to Aranda along with community volunteer Candy Martinez, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District Board President Darryl Adams, Councilman Mike Mendez and Mayor Cheri Kelley.

Although his name is on the ballot, Byran Mesinas Perez withdrew from the March 5 election and as a result did not attend the forum.

Adams, a 20-year veteran of the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District, touted his years as an educator and board member in the region, exhorting Norwalk business leaders that the time for change had arrived.

"It is now 2013, we have to decide what kind of city we will be," he said. "I have a strong fiscal understanding...I take my job very seriously. You have to know how to lead, follow and get out the way. That's what I'll do if elected."

While Martinez acknowledged she wasn't a career politician like other candidates, the single mother maintained that her 22 years of community service with the PTA qualified her to be in the race.

"I'm not the best public speaker, but I'm a creator of ideas," Martinez said. "I've seen the frustration in my neighbors and the hardships of business owners. If elected, I can help."

While the challengers laid out plans and hopes for the future, incumbents Mendez and Kelley stayed on defense, reminding voters of numerous accomplishments throughout their successive terms.

"I've been in Norwalk for 62 years and fortunate to have been on the council since 1988 - 25 years. When we talk about the future of Norwalk I can't help but think, this building was my idea," said Mendez referring to the Norwalk Arts & Sports Complex. "I know how government works."

Likewise, Kelley highlighted her experience and reputation as an "advocate who will work hard for the community."

"Residents know and trust that I've done my homework," said Kelley. "We've had to do more with less, but the budgets have been balanced, there have been no layoffs or furloughs. We will continue to make Norwalk a community of choice." The candidates struck a similar tone on issues of redevelopment, acknowledging that the city must become more business friendly in order to attract quality businesses.

Kelley insisted much of the slow growth was a reflection of the lack of redevelopment funds after the state ordered municipal governments to shut down their redevelopment agencies.

"We need new strategies. The loss of redevelopment funds continues to impact us," she said. "We don't own the [vacant] properties so we must rely on owners. We don't know their business plans and some that are brought to us are not the quality we want."

Adams, however, took issue with the city for getting in the way of economic progress.

"Front Street...what we have done - or haven't done - is pathetic," Adams said. "We need a master plan. Cerritos, Downey...they have a master plan. By continuing to shoot down business, we're allowing businesses to leave our area."

Aranda echoed Adams stating that a city the size of Pasadena should be retaining more businesses, but also preventing more crime.

"We need to look at the best practices of other cities and invest in intervention and violence programs," he said.

Martinez said she hears the concerns of people in the community regarding safety everyday.

"They're tired of their houses being graffitied on," said Martinez. "It's time we create our own districts and get out there. Crime...how much of it isn't even reported?"

Mendez countered in his response, maintaining that public safety was and is always number one in officials minds.

"The police can't be there all the time. There's not enough man power for the police to be with you all day," said Mendez. "Realignment is creating issues for us so we need to do more work with the churches, but we will continue to do the best we can."

In a final question on council term limits, the candidates split in their responses.

Unsurprisingly, Mendez and Kelley reiterated their opposition to term limits, which they believe stifles experience.

"Term limits are at the ballot box," said Kelley. "The voters can decide. With term limits, council members aren't there long enough and people end up looking for their next seat."

Adams did not disagree, noting his 20 years on the NLMUSD board of education.

Aranda and Martinez agreed that term limits would be good for the city, guaranteeing fresh vision and a new generation of leaders.

"Working in the private sector, I understand having a succession plan for the future," said Aranda. "I support term limits, it's important having them along with spending limits and city districts."

The next Norwalk City Council candidates forum will be held at Norwalk City Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m.

Downey forwards more petition complaints to DA

DOWNEY - The city of Downey has forwarded three additional complaints to the Los Angeles District Attorney in an attempt to persuade the DA to investigate accusations of voter fraud among petitioners working on behalf of the Downey Firefighters Association. The fire union is attempting to amend the city charter, which requires two-thirds voter approval before Downey can contract out fire and police protection services. Union officials say Downey is already violating the charter by hiring outside EMTs and jailers.

City clerk Adria Jimenez initially contacted the DA last week after the city received complaints that signature gatherers were lying to residents in order to get them to sign a petition. Jimenez included a letter from retired city clerk Joyce Doyle, who claimed to have heard a petitioner tell a resident she would save $1,000 by signing the petition. On Monday, Jimenez sent the DA four additional complaints received by the city.

In one complaint, a Downey couple claim a petitioner knocked on their door and said, "In the case of a natural disaster, the city does not have any joint response with other city, state and local agencies to assist us and if you sign this petition, this will give Downey that assistance."

Another resident, Scott Knox, claimed a petitioner "was very aggressively in the face of the patron as they argued about the petition" outside the Downey City Library.

"I witnessed only about 20-30 seconds of the incident and then it was over," Knox wrote. "The patron entered the library and was upset enough to comment to me about the petitioner's behavior as she walked in. I saw no physical contact between them.

"Since I live and work in Downey, please accept this as a complaint from a Downey resident."

Resident Erna Tersi lodged a complaint after a petitioner "misrepresented the issue to her son who was about to sign the petition prior to her intervening." Tersi said she "ran them off the property."

The fire union said they take such complaints seriously.

"We ask the signature gatherers to be honest and when we hear otherwise I am in continual contact with the [petition] company to have them rectify the problem," Steve Davis, president of the Downey Firemen's Association, said last week.

Meanwhile, city officials also prepared a letter addressed to "Downey business owners" suggesting they contact police if petitioners refuse to leave their property.

"The City of Downey wants to ensure an enjoyable, distraction-free shopping experience for customers of businesses throughout the City," reads the letter signed by assistant city manager John Oskoui. "To that end, we ask that if signature gatherers refuse to leave your business after being asked to do so, that you contact the Downey Police Department so that officers can investigate the situation and take the appropriate action, including removal of the signature gatherers from your business."

********** Published: Febuary 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43

Parks & Rec meetings wrapping up

DOWNEY - The city is hosting its final two Parks and Recreation master plan community meetings this month, where residents are encouraged to offer input on the future of the Parks Department.A meeting is scheduled for this Saturday from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at Furman Park. The final meeting takes place Feb. 23, also from 9:30-11:30 a.m., at Wilderness Park. Meetings include light refreshments and children are welcome. For more information, call (562) 904-7238 or visit downeyca.org. Residents unable to attend can still offer input by e-mailing parksandrec@downeyca.org.

********** Published: Febuary 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43

An intractable problem

Dear Editor:Re neighborhood riff raff (Letters to the Editor, 1/31/13), we've been dealing with the exact same filth (add some graffiti) for 16 years now since we bought our house north of Stonewood. We call the police and they're great. They do the best they can, and our arrest score is about seven now.

As far as other people's children are concerned, they're like untrained puppies, but the low-life adults are like stray dogs. They all act incredulous when you tell them to stop fouling your neighborhood and leave. It's your property, and you have every right to keep it safe.

Keep calling the police--you never know which one of them is casing your house for a break-in. Richard McAllister Downey

********** Published: Febuary 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43

Renaming Tierra Luna

Dear Editor:I went to visit astronaut James M. Kelly at our Downey space museum this last Friday.

After his 30-minute speech, he had asked the audience for any questions so I asked him if he could help the Downey citizens to name our new shopping center Columbia Landing instead of Tierra Luna Marketplace.

Mr. Kelly smiled and stated that he was grateful that Downey changed the street name to Columbia Way and that naming the new shopping center Columbia Landing sounds pretty good to him. Mike Sandoval Downey

********** Published: Febuary 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43

Library group holding membership drive

DOWNEY - The Friends of the Downey City Library are holding their annual Valentine's Week Membership Drive from Feb. 11-16 (Monday thru Saturday) inside the Downey City Library.Volunteers will staff a sign-up table to recruit new members and accept current member renewals. Friends proceeds fund library programs, purchase books and supplies, and provide staff enrichment.

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Science deniers

Dear Editor:Lars Clutterman (The Downey Patriot, 1/31/133) says, "No substantive science was ever in question...," yet skips over the demonstrated fact that Phil Jones, and Michael Mann, lied about their research, and sources, that are the basis for the UN's IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change), plus he ignores all of the science that demonstrates that there has been no global warming in over ten years.

Just who are the "science deniers" here? Drew Kelley Downey

********** Published: Febuary 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43

Growing stronger together

Dear Editor:As a nonprofit, the Y relies on the support of its volunteers and donors to give back to the community in order to deliver on its promise to strengthen the foundations of community through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Your willingness to help our cause by making a monetary gift to our Annual Support Campaign allows us to keep our programs accessible to youth and families who need us most.

Funds raised go directly to those in need in our communities. The Downey Family YMCA provides scholarships and financial assistance for all Y programs, including summer day and resident camps, after school programs, Easter Caravan and youth sports, just to name a few. Your gift allows a child to experience one fun-filled week of exciting activities and character development at camp or offers a pre-teen a week of exciting adventure and personal enrichment on our Easter Caravan.

The Y could not do the work it does for the Downey community without the help from volunteers, particularly those leaders who are dedicating their time to sharing the Y story and helping to fundraise. We would like to thank all of our volunteer campaigners for giving their time, talent and treasure, with special thanks to our 2013 Campaign Chairs, Russell and Nicki Shersick and Lonnie Croom -- thank you all for giving back to the community through the Downey Family YMCA.

To make a gift to the YMCA or to learn more about volunteer opportunities, please visit ymcala.org/give and designate your gift to the Downey Family YMCA or call executive director Anne Ullstrom at (562) 862-4201-ext 7465. Downey Family YMCA

********** Published: Febuary 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43

Remembering the Carpenters

Dear Editor:It's good to know there are others in this push-button world who are still sentimental about the artist and music of the times gone by. Another era when music was about the melody and flow of music notes that set a mood, to sink your thoughts and feelings into.

Thank you, Joel Samberg, for your views on the Carpenters' era. For awakening memories. G. Suhy Downey

********** Published: Febuary 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43

Vandalized grave markers

Dear Editor:While doing some family genealogy, I have been referring lately to some cemetery records and to internet web sites which specialize in pictures of tombstones, e.g., FindAGrave.com.

In the process, I was reminded of the occasional vandalism occurring at the Downey Cemetery and that many families will be denied the future opportunity to visit the marked graves of their loved ones. As I understand the situation, cemeteries are traditionally not responsible to replace any such markers and rather leave it up to the families to do it themselves-many of whom are never aware of the situation.

Any local service organization interested in such matters would be helping in the preservation of such links to future generations if they were to research and identify the vandalized markers, attempt to notify the families, and possibly raise funds for modest replacements-especially applicable to members of the military. Hugh T. Hoskins Downey

********** Published: Febuary 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43

Trip to Harrah's Casino

DOWNEY - The OLPH Women's Guild is sponsoring a trip to Harrah's Casino on Feb. 26.Cost is $10. The bus departs at 7:15 a.m. and returns at about 5 p.m. To reserve a seat, call Anna at (562) 923-2988.

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Cardiologist to talk heart failure

CERRITOS - Cardiologist Dr. Randall Harada will lead a discussion on how to maintain a healthy heart Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. at the Cerritos Senior Center.Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is not strong enough to pump enough blood to meet your body's needs. Harada will discuss how to prevent heart failure and current treatment options. The meeting is free and open to adults ages 50 and older.

********** Published: Febuary 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43

Gangs Out of Downey

Gangs Out of Downey president Dr. Dan Fox presents Darrell Jackson, president and founder of the 10-20 Club, with a check to bolster the club's work in the community. The 10-20 Club is a juvenile intervention organization that tends to the needs of children and young adults considered "at-risk" or delinquent. The organization offers a crisis hotline, drug testing, drug and alcohol education and treatment, a family support group, anger management classes, individual counseling and more. ********** Published: Febuary 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43

Gas Company installing smart meters

DOWNEY - Southern California Gas Co. is upgrading its natural gas metering system by installing advanced meters throughout its service territory, including Downey and Paramount. The communications device will transmit hourly gas usage data from a customer's home or business, and the Gas Co. will make the usage information available online for the customer the next business day.

The advanced meter device enables the Gas Co. to "more efficiently serve its customers and empower them with more information about their gas usage so they can make more informed decisions and better control their energy bills," officials said.

The data is expected to help customers better understand and manage gas use and costs, identify sudden usage spikes, obtain information on energy usage online, and have more privacy and security.

With an advanced meter, gas usage will be measured just as it is today by a current meter and bills will continue to be based on a monthly read of natural gas usage.

********** Published: Febuary 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43

Keith V. Baker

Keith V. Baker was born on January 28, 1941 in Colorado and passed away on January 23, 2013 at his home in Downey, California.Keith had a stroke in May 2009 - that kept him from doing what he liked so well - Electronics & Woodworking. He was a very intelligent man - he could fix anything - or even make the part if it wasn't available. He lived his whole life on Cavel Street. Went to Alameda, South and Downey High School. He worked at North Am Automatics, Bowman Auto - Net Electronics. He was self employed - his card said "specializing in the unusual". He helped everyone on Cavel Street, always ready to lend a hand when asked. Last year Downey Rotary club for their "Community Service" painted Keith's house on the exterior. He was very grateful - this is what it's about, giving back. Keith's wish was cremation, no services. He was a great person and friend. He will be missed.

********** Published: February 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43

Dorothy Tuttle passes away at 89

DOWNEY - Downey resident Dorothy "Anita" Tuttle passed away at her home Jan. 30 with her husband, Julius, by her side. She was 89.She was born Sept. 22, 1923 in Seneca, Kans. She moved with her parents to Downey after high school graduation. She met Julius in the spring of 1946 and they were married on Aug. 24, 1947 at First Presbyterian Church of Downey. She started working at Vultee Aircraft Manufacturing and went on to work for AT&T. She retired after 41 years as a telephone operator. Along with working and raising a family, Anita volunteered her time and was an active member of First Presbyterian Church of Downey, White Shrine, Eastern Star, Rainbow Girls, Boy Scouts of America, American Legion Auxiliary, Diamond Tread Model-A Club, Daughters of the American Revolution and AT&T Pioneer's Club. She is survived by her husband, Julius; sons Thomas and Richard; five granddaughters; one great-grandson; and two great-granddaughters.

********** Published: Febuary 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43

Soroptimist looks to honor extraordinary women

DOWNEY - Soroptimist International of Downey is accepting applications for its Soroptimist Ruby Award, which honors women who - through their professional or personal activities - make extraordinary efforts on behalf of women and girls.Women can nominate themselves or another woman in the community. Applications are available online at soroptimistdowney.org or by calling Giovanna Saab at (562) 746-5904. Applications are due by Feb. 15.

********** Published: Febuary 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43