Rate Payer Advocate Begins to Crystallize

LOS ANGELES – A City Council committee took the first concrete step Tuesday toward creating the DWP ratepayer watchdog overwhelmingly called for by voters in March.

The Energy and Environment Committee recommended creation of a citizens’ commission to appoint and hire an executive director of the Office of Public Accountability. The commission would be comprised of five members, with two selected by the Mayor’s office, two by the president of the Council and one by the chair of the energy committee.

Per the recommendation of Councilmember Paul Krekorian, at least one of the appointees must be a member of a neighborhood council.

“By creating a citizens’ commission, we are ensuring that the selection of the ratepayer advocate will not be influenced by the political process or by special interests,” Councilmember Paul Krekorian said. “Voters spoke loudly and clearly in March that their watchdog must be independent of politics and that’s exactly what I intend to help create.”

By nearly 78%, the people of Los Angeles in March approved the Council’s proposal to create an OPA that would serve as the consumer advocate for DWP ratepayers. In order to ensure that the new office, commonly referred to as the “ratepayer advocate,” would be independent and not beholden to political influence, the committee pushed for a commission of citizens.

The creation of the committee now advances to the City Council, which will take up the issue at a future meeting.

The energy committee also set June 21 as the next hearing to hash out more details on the implementation of the OPA, including its budget, precise responsibilities, structure and other components that will allow it to provide accurate and independent analysis of rate actions and effective advocacy for the interest of residential and commercial ratepayers.

Pictured: A public speaker comments during the Energy and Environment Committee meeting, June 4, 2011 | Credit: CD2.

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Krekorian Calls for Federal Investigation into Release of North Hollywood Murder Suspect

LOS ANGELES - Councilmember Paul Krekorian last week called on federal authorities to investigate a Puerto Rican judge’s controversial release of the primary suspect in the 2009 murder of 19-year-old Mike Yepremyan.

The murder of Yepremyan, a college student with hopes of one day becoming an astronaut, is said to have resulted from a text message he sent to his girlfriend calling into question her friend's character. The friend saw the text and, enraged, called her brother to avenge her.

Later that night, in a Sears parking lot in North Hollywood, Yepremyan and several friends were confronted by two men, one of whom allegedly shot the 19-year-old to death. A promising young life was brutally cut short over a text message.

Since the night of the murder, the Los Angeles Police Department has worked tirelessly to identify and locate their primary suspect, Zareh Manjikian. The LAPD, U.S. Marshals and other tracked Manjikian to Puerto Rico and took him into custody last month. Then, shockingly, despite specific requests by the LAPD and the Los Angeles Superior Court that the suspect be held without bail and extradited to Los Angeles, Puerto Rican Judge Gloria Maynard inexplicably released the suspect on a $50,000 bond.                    
“I cannot comprehend any justification for this judge to release a murder suspect who is alleged to have taken an innocent life over nothing more than a text message,” Councilmember Paul Krekorian said. “This bail decision is so completely contrary to standard protocol it defies any explanation based on law, evidence or justice. It is an abrogation of justice, of the judge’s responsibilities to the judicial system and to public safety.”

“The judge’s decision effectively nullified nearly two years of work LAPD detectives put in to capture Mike Yepremyan’s suspected killer, and it is a terrible blow to Mike’s grieving family that has long sought justice for this horrific crime,” Councilmember Krekorian said.

“The people of the City of Los Angeles, along with all people who value and cherish truth and justice, are outraged and appalled that any judge would ignore a no-bail arrest warrant and extradition request and release a murder suspect who is a proven flight risk on absurdly low bail of $50,000.”

Councilmember Krekorian introduced a resolution in the Los Angeles City Council calling upon U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and the city’s entire Congressional delegation, to pursue a federal investigation of the release decision. The resolution further calls upon Puerto Rico's Governor Luis Fortuño and its Attorney General Guillermo Somoza-Colombani to “direct all necessary resources and attention to the recapture of the murder suspect who has failed to appear as required in Judge Maynard’s court.”

“The people of Los Angeles are entitled to know why this judge endangered public safety and disregarded our police and our courts,” Councilmember Krekorian said.  “We will get answers and, with our partners in law enforcement, we will find justice for Mike Yepremyan.”

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Government Goes Online
By Karen Calderon, CD2 Intern

Screenshots of the public safety and policy blogs.

In the labyrinth of city government, it can be difficult to find news from City Hall and other important information that directly affects us and our neighborhoods. With routines often defined by frenetic schedules, it can also be hard to get such local news when you want it and how you want it.

Providing news that is timely and informational, and available across multiple platforms, is a fundamental component of government.

Councilmember Krekorian “believes strongly in making government more accessible and relevant information more available,” he said, adding: “That is why our office sends out a weekly newsletter.”

In addition, his office continually updates a policy blog and a public safety blog, and operates a twitter account - @CD2news - solely dedicated to covering news affecting neighborhoods in the east and northeast San Fernando Valley.

On cd2policy.blogspot.com, you can find updates on committee meetings (such as a complete play-by-play of a recent hearing to help shape the future of the Department of Water and Power) that often go unnoticed by the press; you can read copies of motions from the City Council; and direct policy news about a host of subjects.

On blog.cd2emergency.info, the office updates public safety news from throughout the region, often breaking news about police actions, fires, power outages or traffic hazards.

You can sign up for both blogs to receive updates by entering your email address on each site.

The @CD2News Twitter account delivers streamlined, up-to-the-second news about Krekorian’s east and northeast San Fernando Valley district, while a pair of free eGovernment applications for Android-powered devices and iPhones allow you to report issues from the district anywhere at any time.

As always, you can follow Councilmember Paul Krekorian (@PaulKrekorian) on Twitter and stay up to date with him on Facebook by clicking here.

“On each platform,” he said, “we welcome your comments, suggestions and ideas.”

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Inauguration, Community Food Drive in July

SHERMAN OAKS- It’s been a year-and-a-half, but it seems like five minutes. For many in the San Fernando Valley, the special election Councilmember Paul Krekorian won in late 2009 was a unique moment when special interests took a back seat to the people, and neighborhoods gained a louder voice in Downtown.

After winning that election, Councilmember Krekorian went on to gain reelection with nearly 78% of the vote in March. His first full term will not officially begin until he is sworn in July, and he does not want to do that without you.

On Saturday, July 2, our office will hold a community food drive, a picnic with live entertainment and the inauguration of Councilmember Krekorian for his first full term on the City Council. All are invited to this event, which is free and will take place on the southeast corner of Van Nuys-Sherman Oaks Park, 14201 Huston St.

The food drive will benefit the North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry and everyone is asked to bring a canned good or other non-perishable food item. Free parking is available at lots off Hazeltine Avenue and Huston Street. For more information, please call (818) 755-7676.

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An Evening of Jazz at Grant High

VAN NUYS- Grant High School is set to host a benefit June 15 to raise funds for activities on campus. The event will feature musical performances by the Grant High School Jazz Ensemble and Pat Longo Hollywood Big Band from 7 to 8:45 p.m. 

The event will take place in the Grant High School auditorium, located at 13000 Oxnard St., in Van Nuys. Advanced tickets are available at the Grant High School Student Store for $5. Otherwise, tickets will be sold at the door for $7 and refreshments will be available at the event.
For questions, please contact Howie Levine at (818) 756-2700.

Pictured: Pablo Picasso's Three Musicians

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First Graders Impress with Model of Sherman Oaks

NORTH HOLLYWOOD - One wanted to show off the model pharmacy, another the miniature house she'd built. And all the young architects from Sherman Oaks Elementary School really wanted to play with the small buses and paper trees. All of these features were part of an intricate and creative 35 square foot model of Sherman Oaks created by first graders in Miss Blincoe’s class to tell the story of their neighborhood.

The students carefully crafted several blocks of Sherman Oaks, including residential streets, their school, and a commercial stretch of Ventura Boulevard with many well-known landmarks. Neighbors are walking dogs, children are playing in a park, and cars are travelling the streets. The students created the model after taking a walking tour to observe their surroundings and after finishing a series of mapping lessons.                          

The model, now on display in Councilmember Krekorian’s North Hollywood office, was presented last week to the office with many of the young designers showing off their work to an admiring group of staff members, teachers and parents. It will be on display for the next couple of months and all are invited to check it out.

The North Hollywood office is located on the second floor of 6650 Laurel Canyon Blvd.

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Volume 2, Issue 9
June 14, 2011

In this issue:

Rate Payer Advocate Begins to Crystallize

Krekorian Calls for Federal Investigation into Release of North Hollywood Murder Suspect

Government Goes Online

Inauguration, Community Food Drive in July

An Evening of Jazz at Grant High

First Graders Impress with 3D Model of Sherman Oaks

For a complete list of events and neighborhood council meetings, please visit our Community Calendar.

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