On May 17, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, Deputy Chief John Sherman and many other special guests from the LAPD and the United States Marine Corps (USMC) formally dedicated Quakertown Ave. and Gault St. in Winnetka as ‘Joshua Cullins Way.’ Cullins served in the USMC for a decade and after, he joined the LAPD. In 2010, while on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Cullins was killed in action by an improvised explosive device.
“Staff Sgt. Cullins proudly served our nation and our city and it is very special to share this day with so many of his friends, family and those who served beside him,” said Blumenfield. “I am humbled to help honor this American hero by renaming this intersection after him, one which holds such significance for his family.”
Staff Sgt. Cullins was an active member of the Winnetka community with strong ties to St. Martin’s School, which both of his younger brothers attended. This intersection, adjacent to the school, was chosen because he regularly joined students in the classroom to talk about his service and the importance of giving back to the community.
“Josh selected both the Los Angeles Police Department and the United States Marine Cops for the same reasons- his desire for service, his desire to make a difference, his desire to protect others but most importantly it was his desire to be part of something greater than just one person,” said Chief Beck. “Josh knew that both of the professions he chose were dangerous. Josh knew the consequences of that danger. But he also knew this, like all of you know, that should you or any of us fall, that the rest will carry you forward for all eternity.”
The plan for renaming this intersection originated in October 2017 when Blumenfield met Susan Emslie, teacher at St. Martin’s School and friend of the Cullins family, who mentioned the she wanted to rename this intersection after Joshua Cullins. She said that for years she and Gunnery Sgt. Ernie Napper had tried to get a street named after Cullins, but had been unsuccessful. Blumenfield and his staff immediately started the process of renaming the intersection, culminating in recent celebration.
In addition to Blumenfield and Chief Beck, speakers included Deputy Chief John Sherman, LAPD; Captain Maureen Ryan, LAPD Topanga Division; David Kitch, Chaplain of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church; Officer Steven Hennigan, LAPD Bomb Squad; and was concluded with touching remarks from Cooper Cullins, brother of Staff Sgt. Cullins. From Marines from Camp Pendleton, to LAPD Officers across many divisions, to community members wanting to pay their respects, almost 200 people attended this event.
“Almost everything I do to this day, somehow leads its way back to Josh,” said Cooper Cullins, Joshua’s brother. “Whether it’s dirt biking, snowboarding or pushing his truck a little too hard off road, which I still drive by the way, I know he is up there smiling. Josh lived life to the fullest. He took risks and he didn’t worry. He taught me that family extends way beyond blood and family should always come first.”
As part of the ceremony, the Condor Squadron performed a special flyover, music from the LAPD Emerald Society, colors presented by the USMC Honor Guard and a special rendition of the national anthem from LAPD Officer Rosaline Curry. Just before the sign was unveiled, Blumenfield welcomed Barbara and Jim Cullins, Joshua’s parents, on stage where he gave them a dedication certificate.
The full event can be viewed on Blumenfield's YouTube page here.
Over the last month, Councilmember Blumenfield and the Budget & Finance Committee tirelessly reviewed and amended Mayor Garcetti’s 2018-2019 budget proposal and passed a final budget. Officials from each City department came before the committee and answered specific questions about their finances and operations. The $9.9 billion proposal contains critical programs and initiatives that will target important services and needs throughout Los Angeles.
“At its heart, a budget is a statement of priorities,” said Blumenfield. “We have been able to craft a budget that not only has an unprecedented level of funding to address homelessness and the needs of the LAPD, but I am proud to have also helped dramatically increased the budgets for many needed services such as tree trimming, local parks, and street and sidewalk repairs.”
This budget includes over $430 million toward homeless efforts including the construction of permanent supportive housing, job training, LAPD HOPE team and emergency shelters to help get people off the streets immediately. Additionally, LAPD’s budget was increased to $2.8 billion which includes salaries, pensions, operating costs of stations, and new equipment. This also will make sure that LAPD maintains a force greater than 10,000 officers as well as includes funding to hire more civilians so more sworn officers can be on the street.
Another big citywide win that Blumenfield helped secure was a 30% increase to the budget of the Urban Forestry Division. This means more funding for tree trimming, dead tree removal and root pruning funds to make city sidewalks safer as well as more tree planting funds to increase our urban tree canopy; this is particularly important for the hottest part of our city, the West Valley.
Blumenfield also was proud to help get some key funding that will have a direct impact in the West Valley including $500,000 for safety and equipment improvements at the Winnetka Rec Center and Lanark Park, funding to restore a full engine at Fire Station 73 in Reseda, and over $17 million to reconstruct and restore Reseda Boulevard from Victory to Parthenia.
On April 25, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield introduced a measure called “Cruelty-Free Los Angeles,” to ensure that the City of Los Angeles will only purchase supplies such as cleaning products and hand soaps that are free from animal testing. As part of the announcement, Blumenfield celebrated the animal rights nonprofit, Rescue + Freedom Project (R+FP), and was joined by middle school student animal advocates from R+FP Kids, and six beagles who were rescued from animal testing.
“Testing cleaning products on animals is not only based on flawed and arcane science, but it is simply despicable and disturbing that major companies in our country treat man’s best friend like a science experiment,” said Blumenfield. “We can do better and we must do better.”
R+FP, previously known as Beagle Freedom Project, is a U.S. based nonprofit founded in 2004 that saves animals all around the globe from laboratory experiments, hoarding cases, the meat trade, unique captivity and cruelty, and death row. R+FP Kids is a great initiative they run to help educate and empower the next generation of animal advocates.
Ella Warner, 13-year old President of R+FP Kids said, “Our main goal with R+FP Kids is to spread awareness. Our generation is the one that desperately needs to spread the word and teach the next generation about being cruelty-free and helping animals who do not have a voice.”
As part of the presentation, Blumenfield recognized the World Week for Animals in Labs (WWAIL). WWAIL brings advocates from around the world together to speak up on behalf of the millions of dogs, cats, monkeys, rats, mice, rabbits, pigs, horses and other animals who are confined to steel cages and experimented on in laboratories.
His motion specifically requests the General Services Department (GSD), and any other City department that purchases office and similar supplies, to purchase only “cruelty-free” office products and also requests that the City Attorney report back on the most effective means of ensuring that the City discontinue the use of animal tested products.
Blumenfield has been an animal rights advocate throughout his career and has authored many pieces of humane legislation on both the state and local levels. Most recently, he introduced resolutions to the Council in support of the federal Humane Cosmetics Act (HR 2790) and the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act (SB 1249).
On May 17, Councilmember Blumenfield hosted a Homeless Connect Day in Winnetka. These events bring services such as addiction intervention, haircuts and job assistance directly to those who need it most and help get people off the streets. Over 90 homeless people came from the local area for services and begin the path to getting off the street. This was the fourth connect day that Blumenfield has hosted in the West Valley over the past year.
Blumenfield thanks the partners of this event including Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, LA Family Housing, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, Sisters of the Streets and all of our other organizations who work so hard to address homelessness on the streets of the West Valley and all of Los Angeles.
Councilmember Blumenfield recently funded a new protective gate at the Winnetka Recreation Center. This idea came from an ongoing productive dialogue with the Winnetka Rec Neighborhood Watch regarding needed improvements to the park and surrounding area. He worked closely with the watch group and the Department of Recreation and Parks to make sure that this improvement was completed efficiently and met the needs of the community.
Blumenfield specifically thanks Juan Lopez and Deborah Barnett for being fantastic partners and for all they do to help Winnetka and the West Valley.
He also helped remove nuisance ‘Donation Bins’ from near the park as well. This was part of a larger effort that he has led to help businesses get rid of this blight on their private property. To learn more about this effort, please read Blumenfield’s recent editorial on the issue.
In a ceremony at City Hall, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield declared April 24, 2018 “Leonard Maltin Day” in the City of Los Angeles. Matlin is one of the most respected and acclaimed film critics and historians whose career spans almost fifty years.
“Leonard Maltin has spent his career instilling the love of movies and movie making to generations of filmgoers. Through his books, television appearances, reviews, articles and blog postings, Maltin has informed, excited and inspired audiences and filmmakers alike,” said Blumenfield. “The number of people he has inspired and encouraged by his work may never been known, but the ripple effect of his spreading the good news about movies continues and is deeply appreciated by his legions of fans.”
In addition to his almost three decades on Entertainment Tonight, his “Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide” has served as the definitive source for information on cast, crew, plotlines and capsule reviews for generations of cinefiles and his articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The London Times, Esquire, and The Village Voice. For the past sixteen years, Maltin has also taught at USC School of Cinematic Arts. His professional career began while he was still in high school when he self-published Film Fan Monthly.
“I usually only cry at movies but this is a very moving day for me,” said Maltin. “To be rewarded in any way for something you love almost seems superfluous. This is what I’d be doing if I weren’t being paid. It’s my calling, It’s my path. Writing about movies is all I wanted to do and to have made a career out of it is a minor miracle.”
Matlin was joined by dozens of friends and family including his wife Alice, and his daughter Jessie, who also co-hosts with Leonard on the hit podcast “Maltin on Movies.”
Leonard Maltin Day occurred the same week as the 9th annual Turner Classic Movies Film Festival came to town in which he has been an active participant every year in addition to his many appearances on the network.
Councilmember Blumenfield celebrated Jewish Heritage Month at City Hall with his City Council colleagues, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Consul General of Israel in LA Sam Grundwerg, Controller Ron Galperin, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California, and the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies.
“The Jewish community has helped shape LA in so many ways from our city's beginnings to its longstanding cultural institutions and it is important to celebrate that rich history,” said Blumenfield.
Throughout the month of May, there was an exhibit in the City Hall East Bridge celebrating 150 years of Jewish cultural heritage in Los Angeles.
To cap off the end of the school year, Councilmember Blumenfield honored many athletic and academic high school champions in the West Valley. From Canoga Park High School’s first ever city wide championships in Boys Basketball and Girls Cross Country, to El Camino Real High School’s Academic Decathlon team winning the State and National championships, Blumenfield was proud to welcome so many students athletes, teachers, parents and friends to City Hall to celebrate their accomplishments. Below are a few pictures from the events.
Below, from top to bottom: El Camino's Academic Decathlon team, the Boys and Girls Soccer teams, and the Tennis and Cross Country teams.
Above: Canoga Park High School's Boys and Girls Basketball Teams.
On May 24, Councilmember Blumenfield joined Deputy Chief John Sherman, Captain Beverly Lewis and Councilwoman Nury Martinez to launch the West Valley Division Volunteer Program. This initiative will educate and offer tools to local volunteers so that they can help patrol their communities for potential criminal activity and coordinate with LAPD.
"Empowering, training and mobilizing volunteers to patrol our streets, serving as more eyes and ears for our LAPD, are important steps in combating crime," said Blumenfield. "I am proud to support and finically sponsor this program which will greatly expand our law enforcement presence in our community.”
If you are interested in joining this new volunteer program, please contact Blumenfield's office at (818) 774-4330 or the West Valley Division directly at (818) 374-7690.
Though city departments work very hard to ensure that our streets and sidewalks are clean of litter, trash and blight, there are times where problems pop up or areas are overdue to be cleaned. In order to make sure the West Valley is clean and safe, Councilmember Blumenfield’s Strike and Clean Crew is out in the West Valley everyday picking up old bulky items, abandoned furniture and litter.
If you see trash, graffiti, or potholes, please go to lacity.org/myla311 or download the MyLA311 appto your smartphone to report it. Blumenfield’s staff also are always available to help. Please call Safi Lodin, Blumenfield’s Constituent Services Coordinator, at (818)774-4330 or email him at[email protected] to learn more about how Team Blumenfield can help.
"DARREN" (ID # A1770545)- Darren came from a home with too many cats and not enough love, so he is shy at first. He is a Tuxedo Kitty, 6, with great litter box habits. With a quiet home, a little patience and lots of love, Darren will relax, purr happily with you, and flourish into a loving and most appreciative cuddle-companion! Please, Darren needs to be an indoor-only cat so he can feel, and really be, safe always.
"GORDON" (ID # A1736476)- He is delightfully sweet, deeply affectionate and gentle! His intelligent expressions melt your heart. Gordon looks so sad because he does not have what he wants more than anything – a forever home and lots of love. Hug him, pet him, play with him, snuggle him -- any attention from you gets Gordon's joyful wags and loving nuzzles. Gordon is 8, and a wonderful companion -- easy-going and polite. He walks well on leash and also loves the sun.
Bring home forever love, smiles, purrs and wags -- come adopt a shelter pet today! Dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, bunnies, all sizes, types and fur lengths, from playful youngsters to gentle, loving seniors -- they are waiting for you at your local CD 3 Animal Shelter! Come fall in love at the West Valley (L.A. city) Animal Shelter at 20655 Plummer St., Chatsworth, (818) 756-9325. See all the L.A. City Shelter animals at http://www.laanimalservices.com/.
On May 5, Councilemmber Blumenfield met the engineers of tomorrow at the Rally in the Valley Robotics Challenge. "Great to see students and teachers from Reseda Elementary and Serrania embrace STEAM education, helping prepare West Valley youth for the jobs and challenges of the 21st century," said Blumenfield.
On May 6, Councilmember Blumenfield joined State Senator Henry Stern, and Joe and Katie Andrews to celebrate the 15th annual Walk of Hearts Ceremony. This event shines a spotlight on inspirational local teachers who make a big difference in the lives of countless students.
On May 18, Councilmember Blumenfield joined LA Rams kicker Johnny Hekker and General Manager of LADOT Seleta Reynolds to congratulate the students of Columbus Middle School in Canoga Park for winning the Street Safety Hero Pledge. The contest focused on raising awareness for how to be a safe pedestrian, bicyclist and driver.
On Memorial Day, Councilmember Blumenfield helped lead the 29th annual Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade. "We remember all of the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Proud to join this great event and honor those who gave so much for our freedom," said Blumenfield. He was joined by State Senator Henry Stern, State Treasurer John Chiang, City Controller Ron Galperin, and County Assessor Jeff Prang.
On May 20, Councilmember Blumenfield helped host the NKLA Super Adoption Event at Warner Ranch Park. The Los Angeles Department of Animal Services partnered with the Best Friends Animal Society and dozens of other organizations in the region for the great event where hundreds of animals found their forever homes.