Author: anitavarghese

Storm drains send tons of debris and sludge into ocean with each heavy rainstorm in parts of Los Angeles County

When a round of heavy rain hits Southern California, Los Angeles County officials estimate that several tons of trash flush straight into the ocean. Debris collected during the dry summer months in gutters and storm drains throughout the county travel to the ocean with the first round of rain, referred to as the “first flush” by environmental engineers. Pet droppings, fast food wrappers, lawn fertilizer, used motor oil and cigarette butts are just a few of the pollutants that county residents toss into the street every day without thinking about the damage, county officials said. This lack of awareness has prompted the county’s Department of Public Works to remind the public of the dangers of stormwater pollution through the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Campaign. Trash ends up in the storm drain system and eventually in beaches and rivers where pollution endangers the public’s health and marine life. The county’s two trash nets in Long Beach and Ballona Creek are the last lines of defense before trash flows into the Pacific Ocean. Water that flows over streets, parking lots, construction sites and industrial facilities carries trash through a 5,000-mile storm drain network directly connected to the rivers and beaches of Southern California. The storm drain system is separate from the sewage system. Storm drains are intended to take rainwater straight into the ocean to avoid area flooding. Water traveling through the...

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Couple fights state law that makes it difficult for husband to take his wife’s last name

Diana Bijon knew she was taking a chance when she asked her fiancÈ, Michael Buday, to take her last name when they married in 2005. This request, it turns out, was the easy part for the Marina del Rey couple. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California petitioned the U.S. District Court, Central District of California in December to bring marriage laws in California up to date by making the rules for a husband who wants to take his wife’s last name the same as for a wife taking her husband’s last name. Men must now pay court fees of more than $300 and advertise the name change in a newspaper. Women who choose to take their husband’s name when they wed pay only a $50 to $80 marriage license fee. Buday, 29, and Bijon, 28, made the decision to recognize the importance of Bijon’s father in Buday’s life. Bijon has one sister who is also married, so the Bijon family name would have ended if Bijon took Buday as her last name. The couple hopes to extend the Bijon family name into another generation as an expression of Bijon’s French-American ancestry. “It’s not about the money, it’s about the principle of families being able to make their own decisions,” Buday said. “Diana’s dad has become my father figure, and I want to honor that.” Rebuffed twice...

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City assumes control from oil firms for design, construction of new water treatment system

The City of Santa Monica has reached an agreement with a consortium of oil companies that will streamline construction of a new water treatment system as part of the city’s quest to restore its drinking water. Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil have agreed to pay the city $131 million, which allows the city to fully fund the companies’ current obligations to construct a water treatment plant for water produced from the city’s Charnock Well Field in Mar Vista. The money will also allow the city to pay for replacement water until the treatment plant begins its operation and to maintain and monitor regional test wells as well as perform other related tasks. The city will now assume sole control of the design and construction of the system. Previously, the city and the companies had jointly managed the plant design and construction, which was to be paid for by the companies. The new facility is tentatively scheduled to open in 2012. Since 1996, Santa Monica drinking water has been imported from the Metropolitan Water District at the expense of the companies, after the discovery of MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether), an oxygenate designed to make gasoline burn cleaner, in the aquifer supplying the Charnock Well Field. In 2003, the city and the oil companies reached an agreement (with the concurrence of local, state and federal regulators) jointly to design and construct a...

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Psychological Trauma Center’s Share and Care helps students at three local elementary schools

Three area elementary schools are among 11 in the Los Angeles Unified School District to benefit from a $25,000 grant to the Psychological Trauma Center from the Los Angeles-based Ralph M. Parsons Foundation to expand the trauma center’s Share and Care Program. Locally, the program will help students at Broadway Elementary School in Venice, Loyola Village Elementary School in Westchester and Beethoven Street Elementary School in Mar Vista. The Psychological Trauma Center is affiliated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The program is a school-based project that identifies and treats children who are at-risk emotionally and academically because they are direct or indirect victims of a violent or traumatic situation. The core of Share and Care is group-focused counseling that involves the use of art therapy and group discussions led by an experienced therapist to teach students coping skills to help improve their academic perform- ance and classroom behavior. Share and Care has been operating in the school district for 12 years and is currently servicing 11 schools throughout Greater Los Angeles. The Parsons Foundation grant helps supplement the costs of starting the program at Broadway Elementary School and continuing it at Loyola Village and Beethoven Street. Broadway School, at 1015 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, serves a predominately Hispanic and African-American population. Beethoven and Loyola Village also enroll a large number of minority students, with many students from the South and Central...

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With 100 percent of precincts reporting, statewide and local results for the Tuesday, November 7th, general election are in. U.S. SENATE: Democrat Dianne Feinstein defeated Richard “Dick” Mountjoy, Republican; Don Grundmann, American Independent; Todd Chretian, Green; Michael S. Metti, Libertarian; and Marsha Feinland, Peace and Freedom. Feinstein received 60 percent, 3,984,426 votes. U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: District 30: Democrat Henry A. Waxman defeated David Nelson Jones, Republican, and Adele M. Cannon, Peace and Freedom. Waxman received 71 percent, 130,787 votes. District 33: Diane E. Watson faced no challenge. She received 100 percent, 97,346 votes. District 35: Democrat Maxine Waters defeated Gordon Michael Mego, American Independent, and Paul T. Ireland, Libertarian. Waters received 84 percent, 72,114 votes. District 36: Democrat Jane Harman defeated Brian Gibson, Republican; Mike Binkley, Libertarian; and James R. Smith, Peace and Freedom. Harman received 64 percent, 92,222 votes. STATE OFFICES: Governor: Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, with 56 percent, 3,782,221 votes, defeated Democrat Phil Angelides. Lieutenant Governor: Democrat John Garamendi, with 50 percent, 3,296,759 votes, defeated Republican Tom McClintock. Secretary of State: Democrat Debra Bowen, with 49 percent, 3,180,635 votes, defeated Republican Bruce McPherson. Bowen is from Marina del Rey. McPherson was the incumbent. Controller: Democrat John Chiang, with 51 percent, 3,326,831 votes, defeated Republican Tony Strickland. Treasurer: Democrat Bill Lockyear, with 55 percent, 3,564,910 votes, defeated Republican Claude Parrish. Attorney General: Democrat Jerry Brown, with 57 percent,...

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