• by Winston Chua

    ALHAMBRA – Two issues face the Alhambra Planning Commission
    Monday night, when they are likely to decide the fate of a 51-unit development
    project by Frank Liu. One is moral; the other is social.

    Liu and former Alhambra Mayor John Parker Williams were
    convicted of bribery in 2007, which is part of the reason why current Mayor
    Steven J. Placido said, “He’s been convicted of bribery, but he’s paid his debt
    to society. He’s someone you probably wouldn’t trust.”

    Placido was quick to point out, however, that ruling against
    the developer would be illegal and cautioned that disapproving a legitimate
    project on character issues alone would put the City on the wrong side of a
    lawsuit that it would likely lose.

    “By law the government can’t judge a project by the morals
    of a developer, in this case. As a matter of law, we can’t look at the
    character of the person,” the Mayor said.

    Although
    there may be misdirected public outcry this Monday, Councilman Gary Yamauchi
    said, “It’s not up to us to control this project by our thoughts or emotions.
    It’s basically by law.”

    Liu’s
    project, according to reports, would center on Monterey Road and Woodward
    Avenue. The concerns his project would have to address are whether or his
    proposed residential development can comply with City standards, which have
    become more strict over the years. The entitlements he received after he first
    received approval years ago cannot be redeemed because codes have changed.
    Where five to 10 variances may have been applied for and approved, that number
    is greatly reduced, even for senior living residences.

    The question then becomes not whether he is able to build
    something, but how sturdy his construction will be, and if he will modify his
    plans in accordance with the City’s statutes.

    It was reported that Liu sent $25,000 to former Councilman
    Dan Arguello for the same project’s approval in 2007. There has been much rumor
    and speculation as to how or why things turned out the way they back then,

    Should
    the Commission approve the project on Monday, the City Council need not
    entertain any further discourse on the matter; but any Councilperson is at
    liberty to bring the issue to the Council at a later time. The planners can
    also appeal a negative decision before the Council as well.

    by Winston Chua

    ALHAMBRA – In spite of what you think about health care
    legislation on a national or statewide level, there is little, if anything, to
    argue about when it comes to free health screenings locally this Saturday.

    The Alhambra YMCA will provide services relating to
    diabetes, blood pressure, osteoporosis, body fat analysis, pain management,
    cholesterol, chiropractic screenings, asthma, stroke and H1N1. The center will
    provide 500 free H1N1 vaccinations as they partner with Alhambra Hospital, the
    USC School of Pharmacy, Arcadia Methodist, Garfield Hospital, the San Gabriel
    Valley Medical Center, the Rotary Club of Alhambra and more.

    Gabriel Valley Medical Center Saturday will be part of the
    YMCA Health Fair taking place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Valerie Gomez of the YMCA, who heads the event, said. “We
    have some amazing community partners that extend to our community. This is a
    collaboration of bringing participating hospitals together for health and
    wellness of all.”

    This is the second year of the event, which has taken
    roughly four to five weeks to prepare. Raymond Poon and Paul Wondries and his
    wife, along with Gomez, have been working together to make events like
    Saturday’s one possible. The YMCA
    CEO said she believes in the principle of giving, and not walking the journey
    of life in a solitary way.

    The Alhambra Fire Department and Police Department will also be present on Saturday.

    Eileen Diamond, chief business development officer for the
    SGVMC, said “We’re very happy to be participating in YMCA’s Health Fair. We think
    it’s wonderful and we’re glad to be a part of it.”

     

    by Winston Chua

    School budgets down, class sizes grow; but there is
    something the California Teachers Association hopes that will never change, the
    love of reading among young people. From firefighter to doctor to journalist,
    the CTA wants the community to volunteer their time in reading to kids of all
    ages.

    In little more than a month, on March 2, the CTA officially
    celebrates “Read Across America.” But the CTA wants to focus in on more than a
    day, as they promote reading as a lifestyle. The special March day is the
    birthday of Dr. Seuss, remembered through the nationwide pledge to read.

    “Reading is a fun, exciting and positive thing,” said Sheri
    Miyamoto, a community relations specialist for the CTA. “It’s important because
    it opens up the world and opportunities to everyone. The more they learn, the
    better citizens they become. Kids are our future.”

    Miyamoto said that there is no better time for volunteers in
    all professions to call the local school district and sit in classrooms and simply
    read. And in doing so, sparking motivation and excitement as men and women take
    time out of their busy schedules to spend time with local youth.

    The public library in San Gabriel will commemorate the day
    by having a special family story time reading of several Dr. Seuss books. Kids
    will also have the opportunity to make hats like those from the classic book The Cat in the Hat.

    The California School Library Association has complied a
    list of books that “Every Child Should Know,” including Monsoon Afternoon, What to Do
    About Alice
    and The Surrender Tree:
    Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom.

    ...Read More

    by Winston Chua

    ALHAMBRA – It was 28 years ago that the Hiroshima
    Instrumental band was nominated for their first Grammy Award. It was in 2009
    that they were nominated for their latest Grammy, which happens to be their
    second. So when the performers of the band came up to receive recognition by
    the Alhambra City Council, Councilman Yamauchi said, “Will it be 28 years until
    you are nominated for your next one?”

    One of the band members said, “Don’t hold your breath.” The
    accomplished band has the proud distinction of being the only Asian American
    band ever to have been nominated for a Grammy Award. This year’s recognition
    comes for their work on their 17th album, “Legacy.” The first was
    for a track on their 1980 album called “Wings of Change.”

    The current members of the band include Dan and June
    Kuramoto, Danny Yamamoto, Kimo Cornwell, Dean Cortez and Shoji Kameda. June
    Kuramoto is a resident of Alhambra and a master of the koto, receiving all the
    classical degrees of koto through the most prestigious schools in Japan where
    she was born.

    Although their instrumental musical styles have not changed,
    the band members found it peculiar that their Grammy nomination had. The fusion
    jazz band which began in 1974 was first honored for being an R & B
    instrumental band. Last year’s nomination for instrumental album of the year
    fell under the category of Best Pop Instrumental Album.

    ...Read More

    by Winston Chua

    PASADENA – The U.S. Census Bureau opened its newest location
    Monday, in Pasadena just south of the 210 freeway on Altadena Drive. Around 70
    people, including media and city leaders attended the celebration.

    San Marino Mayor Eugene Sun, San Marino Councilman Richard
    Sun, Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogard and San Gabriel Mayor Juli Costanzo were on
    hand to spur an attentive crowd to action. Before the elected officials spoke,
    the Scouts of Troop 352 and Pack 352 led the flag salute and the John Muir High
    School JROTC Color Guard introduced the meeting. Among other opening
    performances, members from the First Nations Native Christian Fellowship played
    music.

    “The 2010 Census will be the vehicle through which their
    responses turn into the foundation of our democracy,” said Jamey Christy,
    Census regional director. “Their voice in government, their access to billions
    of dollars worth of decisions.”

    The 2010 Census will be held April 1, but there’s nothing
    foolish about the purpose of the count, which is held just once every 10 years.
    Roughly $400 billion makes their way through the nation, and what the San
    Gabriel Valley receives from the amount is based largely on the census. The number
    of people per household is now tallied at 2.3. If that number does not reach
    2.7, Census Bureau officials said that the State will lose a seat in the House.
    California currently has 53 representatives. Census data is used to determine
    how money is allocated for emergencies and school funding, for example.

    The Bureau began its National Launch of the Paid Advertising
    campaign in Washington, DD. Three days later ads ran for the Golden Globe
    Awards. On March 15, questionnaires are mailed. On May 1, there will be a
    follow up to track down those who have yet to respond.

    Despite tough economic times, the Bureau is offering to
    provide up to 1,500 jobs, determined by how many people in the SGV mail back
    their forms, to help make this decade’s count as accurate as possible. The jobs
    pay between $15 to $17 per hour. Online practices exams are available on the
    Census website, an potential employees can take the exam as many times as they
    wish.

    Also at the grand opening event, Joy of Kung Fu provided the
    Chinese martial arts entertainment that included a two-sword display and a
    dance with fans. Michael Arceneaux of John Muir High School sang the National
    Anthem and Reverend Apache and the Gabrieleno Tongva introduced the invocation.

    (PICTURE)

    1. Sergio
    pena, 11

    2. Diego
    Obregon, 11

    3. Webelow
    – Daniel beltran,9,

    4. Ezra
    (in yellow chief) Lima, 8 (cub scout)

    5. Tiny
    one in orange that Alessandro Obregon, 6

    6. Assistant
    scout master Brandy Cantos with scouts since 1987.

    6 years old can be tiger

    7 can be cub scout

    9-10 webelow – plaid.

    ...Read More

    ALHAMBRA – The organization that is helping success stories like in the
    Asian community is the Asian Business Association. The organization, founded in
    1976 near the time of civil rights to promote the cause of government
    procurement among minorities of all sorts, including Asians. The group was
    founded by Dale Fukamaki and Lnn Choy Uyeda Gin.

    “Being
    a part of the ABA is both rewarding and satisfying, to know that capable
    business are being given a shot,” said Dennis J. Huang, ABA executive director.
    “In the past, these businesses may have been discriminated upon.”

    Huang was quick to point out the disparity between the
    approximately 12 percent of Asians in California, compared with less than 2
    percent actually employed by businesses like corporate America. He said that
    smaller companies oftentimes have more to offer, because they put their most
    seasoned veterans to the task. Larger firms may find it more expedient to put a
    rookie to the test, even though the smaller firms may be offering lower bid
    prices.

    The ABA works by connecting corporate America with small
    businesses. The Association has ties with Toyota, Nissan, Verizon and AT&T
    and takes advantage of their ability to match some of their group with members
    with any of their 31 mega companies.

    Those companies represent the buyers, who buy products and
    services made available by the ABA. A group out of Diamond Bar, APR, was
    recently retained by Northrop Drummond. Other ABA groups are procured based on
    a large company’s other needs, say IT consulting, for example.

    The Association is also making change through employment in
    other ways. Huang said the ABA helped save jobs from Macy’s by writing to their
    CEO, imploring them to save some jobs. So the giant retail store agreed.

    Most recently, Alhambra Councilman Gary Yamauchi has worked
    with Huang and others to tell California legislators that they disapprove of
    the potential move to require businesses to provide health care after an
    employee is hired for 30 dyas. They feel the time frame is too quick and unfair
    to those businesses who may not be completely committed to an employee in such
    a shore period.

    ...Read More

    By: Selina Schweitzer, Maranatha
    High School junior

    As Ted Kennedy once said, “the
    most admirable part was that we do it because its hard not because it is easy”
    Before Christmas Break, Maranatha High School students experienced their
    first Speech and Debate Tournament at the Fall Varsity held at Arroyo High
    School. Their cafeteria was filled with students in dark colored suits from all
    over southern California. The initial appearance of the tournament was
    deceivingly uniform. In actuality, however, the speech and debate tournament
    hosted a much more eclectic environment then what the outward appearance
    showed. The tournament provided for an opportunity to share and enjoy the
    creativity of others who competed in events ranging from impromptu speeches to
    performing a one-person script. Participating with nine competitors, two of
    whom won trophies; Maranatha has something to be triumphant about.

    Maranatha’s
    new speech and debate team has only been competing monthly in tournaments since
    September 2009 with just three students: Jen Nicholson, Michelle Washington,
    and Selina Schweitzer. December’s tournament had the biggest turnout for
    Maranatha with a total of nine students: Avery Rhodes, Orkeee Aleman-Hale,
    Silva Georgian, Adam Washington, Michelle Washington, Dominick Townsend, Selina
    Schweitzer, Jennifer Nicolson and Nick Popham competing in the tournament. The
    league Maranatha is competing in consists of the very top of the entire nation,
    with Gabrielino placing fourth this year. The Maranatha victories of Avery
    Rhodes, who took fourth place in Improvisational Duo and Michelle Washington
    who placed fourth in Improvisational Duo and third in General Interpretation,
    are to be hugely commended. Coached by Mr. Mesisca, Maranatha’s Speech and
    Debate team is off to a great start! Nevertheless, win lose or draw, the team
    members showed excellent strength of character and are to be praised for their
    efforts in trying something this difficult. Ted Kennedy was right, that there
    is something very admirable in those that do things because it is a challenge.
    The team looks forward to at least two more tournaments before the state and
    national tournaments.

    Captions: (photos
    taken by parent Maria Schweitzer)

    016 Michelle
    Washington, Mr. Patrick Mesisca (MHS Speech and Debate faculty), Avery Rhodes
    holding their two 5th Place Improvisational Duo trophies and, a 3rd
    place General Interpretation trophy

    002 Back row: Mr. Pat
    Mesisca, Michelle Washington, Adam Washington, Nick Popham. Front row: Silva
    Georgian, Jennifer Nicolson, Selina Schweitzer, Avery Rhodes, Orquidea
    Aleman-Halle, Dominick Townsend

    by Winston Chua

    SAN GABRIEL – Bracing themselves for the worst, the San
    Gabriel School Board met Tuesday night to discuss the next episode in what has
    been a series of crippling budget cuts to SGUSD. On top of the $2 million in
    cuts they faced last year, the Governor’s new, proposed budget calls for an
    additional $1.3 million in cuts. These reductions in education are part of $1
    billion in cuts to education Statewide.

    “The thing that makes this so unimaginable and horrific is
    that the $1.3 million is the best case scenario,” said San Gabriel school board
    member Scott Svonkin. Because very little spending in education is
    discretionary, SGUSD may have to look for creative approaches in maintaining a
    balanced budget that seems tough to prepare for. More than 85 percent of budget
    dollars are fixed in personnel.

    In the fiscal year ending in June or 2009, SGUSD increased
    it’s overall revenue by 6.1 percent, to $55.7 million. However, total expenses
    also rose, totaling $56.2 million. Administrative activities of the District
    accounted for 6.6 percent of total costs and education and student care made up
    72.6 percent of all programs and services.

    “It’s like hitting a
    moving target. If the school budget is cut another million for San Gabriel, it
    doesn’t mean that’s what the final budget approved will be,” said board member
    Scott Svonkin. “It’s like trying to predict the wind or the rain.”

    SGUSD, according to Svonkin, may hire newer, cheaper
    teachers to replace the number who retire. He notes that the crop of quality
    teachers who may need jobs could be at a high level. Several dozen teachers are
    eligible for retirement, but increasing class sizes remains an unpopular
    option.

    Additional ways to raise revenue and cut costs also include
    the possibility of a parcel tax of $100 to $150 to generate school funding or
    moving graduation ceremonies from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium to Pasadena
    City College or East Los Angeles College. There is also the idea of fees for
    extracurricular activities like sports or music. Should the District need to dip
    into their revenue, roughly 6 percent of their budget is available. The school
    board may in the near future go line by line in budget discussions to see if
    there are ways to find savings.

    Last year, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed bills aimed at closing
    the State’s $23.241 billion shortfall. In Feb. 2009 President Obama signed the
    American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and dedicated more than $11.0
    billion over three years for California’s schools, colleges and universities.

    by Winston Chua

    ALHAMBRA – This past Tuesday the Rotary Club of Alhambra raised $2,000,
    enough to provide two ShelterBoxes to needy people in Haiti. They plan, as a
    team, to provide more of those valued boxes as the weeks progress to help some
    of the hundreds of thousands of homeless people in the region.

    A ShelterBox is a 49 gallon box that weighs 110 pounds. The
    box, once delivered, can be used as a water tank, food storage bin or table. It
    includes a 10-person tent with interior privacy partitions, outer fly-sheet and
    repair kit. International relief standards consider the tents “winter
    suitable.”

    The more money the Alhambra Rotary provides, the more
    ShelterBoxes will reach Haiti, according to Rotarian Raymond Poon. The relief
    effort is not limited to Alhambra. Each and every Rotary Club is encouraged to
    partner together as a family to pool their resources and find ways to donate.

    ShelterBox has a team on the ground in Port au Prince to
    provide security, logistics and communications aid. They have at least three
    separate operational centers there.

    On a side note, the Club honored Bruce Stedman, Jane
    Anderson, Bob Mesa, Bill Kinman and Gary Yamauchi for various accomplishments.

    by Winston Chua

    POMONA – Chapagetti.
    It’s a little like spaghetti and a little like chajang, where the best of the
    East meets the best of the West, culinary-wise, of course. This weekend, East
    met West for more than just food.

    More than 100,000 people gathered at the Pomona Fairplex
    over the weekend to be a part of the Asian American Expo filled not only with
    food fusions, but cars, bonsai plants, Chinese-English translation computers
    and more. The sheer number of people often made the simple exercise of walking
    from here to there an obstacle course in and of itself. The Saturday and Sunday
    event featured hundreds of booths from hopeful vendors willing to shell out
    $800 for the two-day event.

    “We expected less people to come to the event this year,”
    said Clare Mou, the event coordinator. “But we saw Asian consumer power going
    up, and the numbers improved this year.” She represents Chinese Overseas
    Marketing in Rosemead.

    Christian worship bands, the Palm Springs marching band, the
    Laker Girls, Thai dancers, Korean dancers and an Indian fire dance were just
    part of the celebration that helps usher in the Chinese New Year. In total
    there were six stages providing consumers with round-the-clock entertainment;
    the event was open for a total of 18 hours.

    Vendors who participated included Gyu-Kaku, Bleu Stone
    Paving, Hire-A-Geek, Fusion Delight, Liberty Mutual, Seawolf Technologies, Inc.
    and various real estate brokers.

    The suped up (or pimped-out) cars at the Expo caught a few
    glances, with doors that open up to the sky rather than parallel to the ground.
    Famous Asian beers and Asian delicacies also were popular attractions.
    Marketing will begin planning for the next Asian Expo in just three short
    months.

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