Operation Gratitude: Giving Back to Our Troops All Year Long

This past weekend I had the opportunity to join my friends at Operation Gratitude as they passed their millionth care-package milestone--a significant accomplishment for this organization that does so much to give back to the men and women of our military.

I've had the opportunity to work with Operation Gratitude for many years, dating back to my time working on veterans issues as Congressman Howard Berman's District Director. Since 2003, Operation Gratitude has sent more than 100,000 care packages each year to our service men and women deployed in hostile regions, to their children and to our veterans, first responders, wounded warriors and their care givers. Care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation have lifted morale and brought countless smiles to the faces of those who have sacrificed for our Nation.

My friend and Veterans Community Action Team (CAT) Chairman, Art Sherman, was given the important honor of laying down a memorial wreath to honor fallen Vietnam veterans at the ceremonial wall exhibit. Another Veterans CAT member, Angel Cuevas serves as Director of Strategic Operations for Operation Gratitude, and I’m excited to continue to work with Art and Angel and our entire Veterans CAT to ensure that LA leads the way on veterans’ issues.

It’s been my honor to have been involved with this initiative for many years, now. Thank you to Operation Gratitude’s founder and president Carolyn Blashek for inviting me to participate in this milestone achievement.

Cilck here for more information on how you can get involved in our Veterans Community Action Team, or call my Emergency Preparedness Field Deputy, Erik Rodriguez at (818) 774-4330.

Check out a photo gallery from the event after the jump:

Read more

LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: Why L.A. must build a Wi-Fi network

That same day, the Los Angeles City Council took an important step toward making a critical investment in our city’s virtual infrastructure that will ensure Los Angeles’s competitiveness in the 21st century. The council voted unanimously to move my proposal to bring community broadband with potential for fiber and wireless capability forward by inviting the private sector to submit plans for partnering with the city on this project.

Citywide broadband presents an enormous opportunity for L.A. to bridge the digital divide, create economic opportunity and attract new tourism dollars. It has the potential to transform the city, create jobs and make us economically competitive.

Other cities, from Philadelphia, and from Corpus Christi, Texas, are already experimenting with their own versions of wireless community broadband. L.A. would be by far the biggest city to do this and we would set the standard.

Read more

Traffic Advisory for Presidential Visit

8077383256_79d474f6ea_o.jpgPresident Obama will be touching down in Los Angeles Monday afternoon for a two-day swing through Southern California. Although the President is not expected to be in the West Valley, please note expected traffic delays across the City. 

From the LAPD: 

Los Angeles.  Los Angeles Police Department advises Los Angeles motorists to expect traffic delays during the anticipated visit of the President of the United States.

On Monday, Nov. 25, President Barack Obama will arrive in Los Angeles for two days in order to attend several functions in the area.  Although specific details about his destinations are not available for security reasons, the following information is provided to assist community members who may have a need to travel in areas where the President may be traveling. 

Every effort to minimize traffic impacts will be employed while the President travels through the City.  It is anticipated that the following streets may be affected and may experience temporary closures to facilitate the safe passage of the President.  Motorists are encouraged to review the following information and make necessary plans to avoid those areas during time periods where traffic may be stopped or congested due to the Presidential motorcade.

The dates, times and areas on the second page of this advisory are provided as a general guide and are subject to change without notice.  It is our intent to provide the best possible information to the public without compromising the safety of the President.  The public’s cooperation is greatly appreciated.

Street issues:

On Monday, Nov. 25, from 4 -5 p.m., the streets surrounding Los Angeles International (LAX) Airport are likely to be affected.  

Read more

TIME Magazine Covers Councilmember Blumenfield's Citywide Broadband Initiative

Councilmember Bob Blumenfield's proposal to bring citywide broadband to Los Angeles is featured in the November 25th issue of TIME Magazine, on newsstands now:

Los Angeles has a plan to speed up its traffic, but it doesn't involve any freeways. The city is launching an ambitious project to bring broadband Internet service to its residents and businesses that's roughly 100 times as fast as the average U.S. connection.

Doing so requires running fiber-optic lines--which transmit data much faster than copper cables--throughout the city. The proposal's cost, estimated at $3 billion to $5 billion, would be picked up by the company that wins the right to provide gigabit-speed Internet, TV and phone service. "This effort is hugely important for our economy," says L.A. city council member Bob Blumenfield, who is spearheading the effort.

Read more: Broadband Boost - TIME (login required)

CALIFORNIA FORWARD: Free and citywide Wi-Fi in Los Angeles may be closer than you think

By Matthew Grant Anson

It’s not every day that proposals in the Los Angeles City Council get talked about in media outlets like LA Weekly and Salon, but it’s also not every day that councilmembers seriously discuss bringing free citywide Wi-Fi to one of the largest city's in the country. The impact on not just the local economy but to government transparency could be huge.

That’s just what the Council has been grappling with since Councilmember Bob Blumenfield first introduced his proposal back in August, and while some pointed at the idea as a symbolic and altruistic pipe dream that would go nowhere, Blumenfield recently told the California Forward that that’s not the case.

The City Council agreed. Earlier this month, the Council unanimously directed the city’s Information Technology Agency to draft a Request for Proposals for the service, a key move forward if Los Angeles is to join other California cities like San Jose and Riverside in offering free Wi-Fi.

Read more

Realizing the Future of the Former Fire Station 84: Parklet Design Charrette

Over 65 neighbors and community leaders turned out yesterday for a design charrette at the former Fire Station 84 site in Woodland Hills. The charrette process is designed to ensure that the community’s vision is represented in the final project’s design. It was a great opportunity to hear from so many neighbors and community members about what they would like to see at the park, and to continue a productive dialogue with the residents about the future of their community.

Read more

Support Local Arts and Culture: Apply Now to be a Panelist for the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs's Cultural Grant Program

Each Fall Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) grants staff convenes discipline-specific teams to review, compare, and score proposals for an array of arts and cultural activities that will benefit Los Angeles residents and tourists. DCA is currently seeking artists, arts administrators, educators, historians, cultural professionals, and art enthusiasts to serve as panelists for this process.

Applications are due December 1. Are you interested? Check out how to apply after the jump:

Read more

In Case You Missed It: Councilmember Bob Blumenfield's Community Broadband Initiative Receives First Hearing Before Full Los Angeles City Council

At Tuesday's Los Angeles City Council Meeting, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield's initiative to increase access to high speed and wireless internet across Los Angeles received its first hearing before the Los Angeles City Council. 

Less than 4 months since it was first introduced, Councilmember Blumenfield's push to bring community broadband to Los Angeles has worked its way through major milestones of the City process at “breakneck speed.”

Speaking in favor of the proposed broadband initiative on Tuesday were Councilmembers Englander, Krekorian and LaBonge who cited the proposal's benefits to public safety and workforce development in Los Angeles. Kevin Taylor, Chairman of the Reseda Neighborhood Council, which has adopted a motion in support of the proposal, also spoke in favor. The Council voted 13-0 to direct the City's Information Technology Agency to draft a request for proposal for release.

Please find relevant information, including press releases and select articles, below:

Read more

Moving Beyond "There It Is: Take It" - Environmental Accountability for the Next 100 Years"

On November 5, Los Angeles will celebrate 100 years since water began flowing into Los Angeles from the Owens Valley via the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Speaking at the Aqueduct's opening that day, the City's Chief Engineer William Mulholland remarked as water began flowing into the San Fernando Reservoir, "There it is. Take it." Last week, our Policy Director, Stephanie Magnien-Rockwell took a two-day long tour along the Los Angeles Aqueduct and through the Owens Valley as part of ongoing commemorations ahead of the November centennial. Stephanie shared her reflections on the trip for our first guest post.

Policy Director Stephanie Magnien-Rockwell visits the Middle Gorge Power Station in the Owens Valley as part of a two-day tour of the LA Aqueduct.

This past Friday and Saturday, I was privileged to attend a tour of the LA Aqueduct led by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) as part of LADWP’s commemoration of the centennial of the aqueduct’s first delivery of water from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles, observed on November 5th.  Councilmember Bob Blumenfield is the vice chair of the Energy and Environment Committee, the committee that deliberates policy decisions relevant to the LADWP prior to being considered by the full LA City Council.  As the Councilmember’s Policy Director and his lead staff member for this committee, I took advantage of this opportunity to gain a better understanding of one of Los Angeles’ most important pieces of infrastructure.  

Read more

Halloween Safety Tips and Activities in Council District 3


Follow these easy safety tips to ensure that your Halloween celebrations are safe and fun:

  • Make sure children’s costumes are flame retardant and provide adequate vision. If they’re carrying props, check that the edges are flexible enough to avoid injuries.
  • Have an adult or responsible teen accompany children. If they’re going without you, ensure they’re traveling with a group and agree on a time for them to return home. Provide a watch for them to wear to keep track of the time.
  • Fill kids up with dinner before they leave, which will make them less likely to snack on their candy before you have a chance to look it over.
  • Give children a flashlight to carry, and ask them to only approach houses with lit porch lights.
  • Consider having them bring along an ID, which includes their home address and telephone number.
  • Apply reflective tape to children’s costumes and bags. You might also want to add glow-in-the dark makeup.
  • Remind children to stay on sidewalks, walk facing traffic and never cross the street between parked cars.
  • Be careful with the little ones when carving pumpkins! Small children should never handle knives, but can still be incorporated in the fun. Let them draw a face on the pumpkin to be carved by an adult, or let them scoop out the insides.
  • Use caution while driving—stay alert and watch for children running into the street.
  • If you plan to display pumpkins or candle in the area you hand out candy, set them far enough out of the way to avoid fire or injury.
  • Explain to children the difference between tricks and vandalism. Throwing eggs at a house may seem like fun at the time, but they should understand the damage and cost such destruction can cause others.

The Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks has compiled a list of Halloween events in Council District 3. Check out the list after the jump:

Read more