Rep. Ed Royce of Rowland Heights convenes hearing on ISIS threat in Iraq

Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will convene a hearing to examine the terrorist advance in Iraq, led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the U.S. response:.  The hearing, entitled “Terrorist March in Iraq: The U.S. Response” will begin at 10 a.m.

Live webcast of the hearing, as well as witness testimony, will be available HERE.

Below is Chairman Royce’s opening statement as prepared for delivery at the hearing:

This hearing will come to order.  This morning we consider the U.S. response to the terrorist take-over in Iraq.

Nearly six months ago, this Committee held a hearing “Al-Qaeda’s Resurgence in Iraq: A Threat to U.S. Interests.”  Then, the Administration testified that ISIS had begun to shift resources from Syria to Iraq in early 2013, that it had tripled its suicide attacks that year, and that it planned to challenge the Iraqi government for control of western Iraq and Baghdad.  The Administration testified that it had become aware that ISIS had established armed camps, staging areas and training grounds in Iraq’s western desert in the summer of 2013 and that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had again threatened to attack the United States.

The Administration told us that ISIS must be “constantly pressured, and their safe havens destroyed” and that its objective was “to ensure that ISIS can never again gain safe haven in western Iraq.”  However, what the Administration did not say was that the Iraqi government had been urgently requesting drone strikes against ISIS camps since August 2013.  These repeated requests, unfortunately, were turned down.  I added my voice for drone strikes as ISIS convoys raced across the desert.

Since that last hearing, ISIS has done precisely what the Administration predicted it would: it has taken over most of western Iraq, it has turned its sights on Baghdad, and it may be preparing to launch attacks against the U.S.  Never has a terrorist organization itself controlled such a large, resource-rich safe haven as ISIS does today.  Never has a terrorist organization possessed the heavy weaponry, cash and personnel that ISIS does today – which includes thousands of western passport holders.

The Iraqi population is terrorized; they have suffered mass executions and harsh sharia law.  Last week, the remaining members of the ancient Christian community in Mosul fled on foot in face of ISIS demands that they convert or face death.

To be clear, ISIS’s take-over has been aided by Prime Minister Maliki’s malfeasance and incompetence.  Maliki has disastrously failed to reconcile with key Sunni groups.  Many – including myself and Ranking Member Engel –urged him to form a more inclusive government so that ISIS could not exploit legitimate Sunni grievances.  Maliki has only proven himself to be a committed sectarian; certainly no statesman.  It is time for Iraqis to move forward in forming a government that serves the interests of all Iraqis.

What started as a crisis in Syria has become a regional disaster with serious global implications – including credible threats of international terrorism, humanitarian disaster, and upward pressure on energy prices in a fragile global economy.  Meanwhile, terrorist forces and the Iranian government are gaining power at the expense of regional security and friendly governments.

Of course, only Iraqis can control their future.  And the performance on the battle field of certain Iraqi units was abysmal.  Americans have spent enough blood and treasure in Iraq.  And that is exactly why the Administration should have taken the opportunity to inflict decisive damage on ISIS from the air through drone strikes while its fighters were encamped in the desert months ago.

This morning we are joined by a senior State Department official who has been in Baghdad for several weeks and an official from the Department of Defense involved in the current assessment of Iraqi security forces to learn of the path forward in dealing with this national security emergency.

I’ll now turn to the Ranking Member, Mr. Engel, for any opening comments.

Caltrans posts closures on 60 pavement project

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close portions of SR-60 from the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605) to the Orange Freeway (SR-57) separation, as part of a pavement rehabilitation project.  Closures are as follows and subject to change.

Monday, July 14, through Friday, July 18

Eastbound SR-60

  • ·         10 p.m. to 5 a.m. – Up to three lanes between I-605 & Azusa Avenue
  • ·         11 p.m. to 5 a.m. – High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane CLOSEDbetween I-605 & Azusa Avenue

Westbound SR-60

  • ·         11 p.m. to 5 a.m. – Up to three lanes between southbound SR-57 & Azusa Avenue
  • ·         10 p.m. to 4 a.m. – HOV lane CLOSED between southbound SR-57 & Azusa Avenue

Friday, July 18, through Sunday, July 20

Eastbound SR-60

  • ·         10 p.m. to 8 a.m.   – Up to three lanes between I-605 & Azusa Avenue
  • ·         7 p.m. to 9 a.m.     – Seventh Avenue on-ramp CLOSED
  • ·         12 a.m. to 8 a.m.   – HOV lane CLOSED between Seventh Avenue & Hacienda Boulevard
  • ·         11 p.m. to 11 a.m. – Connector from north- and southbound I-605 to eastbound SR-60 CLOSED

Westbound SR-60

  • ·         12 a.m. to 4 a.m.   – Up to three lanes between southbound SR-57 & Azusa Avenue
  • ·         10 p.m. to 11 a.m. – Fairway Drive and Old Brea Canyon Road on-ramps CLOSED
  • ·         12 a.m. to 8 a.m.   – HOV lane CLOSED between southbound SR-57 & Nogales Street
  • ·         11 p.m. to 10 a.m. – Connector from north- and southbound SR-57 to westbound SR-60 CLOSED
  • ·          Friday 11:59 p.m. to Saturday 5 a.m.  –FULL FREEWAY CLOSUREbetween southbound SR-57 & Azusa Avenue

Detours will be posted. New pavement will improve mobility and enhance safety for motorists.  Flatiron West Inc. is the contractor on this $121.5 million project which is expected to complete fall 2014.

Puente Hills Concerts in Park set in Schabarum Park in Rowland Heights

Summer concerts will be held 7-9 p.m. Tuesday nights until Aug. 12 at Peter F. Schabarum Regional Park, 17250 E. Colima Road, Rowland Heights. Admission and parking are free. Food, beverages and desserts are available.

Upcoming concerts will feature: July 15, Hot August Night with Dean Colley, a Neil Diamond tribute band; July 22, Vaud and the Villains, a 19-piece 1930s New Orleans orchestra and cabaret; July 29, Beatles vs. Stones — A Musical Shootout featuring tribute bands Abbey Road and Jumping Jack Flash; Aug. 5, Cold Duck, one of Southern California’s premier dance bands; Aug. 12, Three Mo’ Tenors featuring 10 styles of music from opera, to jazz, to Broadway and more.

For more information, visit www.concertsinthepark.com or call 626-854-5560.

Adult Summer Reading program sizzles at Rowland Heights Library

The 2014 Adult Summer Reading Program is under way at the Rowland Heights Library, 1850 Nogales St., Rowland Heights.The program runs through Aug. 16.

Get a reward for your first book review and earn a chance to win weekly drawings and an iPad Mini. Participants must have a valid county library card and visit the library to pick up rewards.

For more information, call 626-912-5348.

Big band opens the Puente Hills Concerts in the Park

 

708_Manny_Glass_BandThe Manny Glass  big band orchestra began the Puente Hills Concerts in the Park series last night in Schabarum Park. The orchestra played patriotic music to celebrate the Fourth of July. They are also known for playing popular tunes from the 40′s big band era.

This summer’s lineup of musicians is sure to offer something for everyone! The series will offer new bands and sounds, as well as bringing back the year-to-year favorites!

Be sure and leave Tuesday nights open from 7 to 9 p.m. on your calendar this summer - you won’t want to miss a moment of the fun!

Puente Hills Concerts in the Park begin on July 1 in Hacienda Heights

Puente Hills Concerts in the Park will celebrate its 20th anniversary beginning July 1 with the big band sound of Manny Glass Band.
The orchestra will kick-off the concert in the park series by playing patriotic music to celebrate the Fourth of July. They are known for playing popular tunes from the 40s big band era.
Summer concerts will be held 7-9 p.m. Tuesday nights until Aug. 12 at Peter F. Schabarum Regional Park, 17250 E. Colima Road, Rowland Heights. Admission and parking are free. Food, beverages and desserts are available.
This summer will showcase an extraordinary talent of musicians, bands and entertainers.
Supported by Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department and Supervisor Don Knabe, Concerts in the Park is a great way to spend your Tuesday evenings with family, friends and community.
Upcoming concerts will feature:
July 8: Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, America’s first all-female mariachi ensemble, which brings sensitivity, beauty, warmth and an attractive perspective to the realm of Mexico’s musical heritage.
July 15: Hot August Night with Dean Colley, a Neil Diamond tribute band.
July 22: Vaud and the Villains, a 19-piece 1930s New Orleans orchestra and cabaret, at once seedy and inspiring, gritty and sublime.
July 29: Beatles vs. Stones — A Musical Shootout. The British Invasion brought us the two most popular rock groups of all time, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, as well as the liveliest debate in rock history — which band is the greatest? These two legendary bands will engage in a musical “shoot out of the hits” featuring internationally renowned tribute bands, Abbey Road and Jumping Jack Flash. Six alternating power sets with the two bands coming together on stage for an amazing encore makes this show a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Aug. 5: Cold Duck. In 1969, trumpet player/vocalist Jose Cuadra assembled a group of musicians to form an eight-piece band known today as Cold Duck, considered Southern California’s premier dance band.
Aug. 12: Three Mo’ Tenors is an extraordinary musical event, featuring 10 styles of music from opera, to jazz, to Broadway and more.
For more information on concert dates, times and park hours, visit www.concertsinthepark.com or call the Schabarum park office at 626-854-5560.

Emergency preparedness fair on June 21 in Schabarum Park

Understanding that emergencies and disasters can happen at any moment, Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe is inviting residents to learn valuable life-saving skills at a free community emergency preparedness fair on Saturday June 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Schabarum Regional Park in Rowland Heights.

“We live in a region that is susceptible to fires and earthquakes, and residents must be prudent in ensuring they are ready in case of an emergency,” said Supervisor Knabe. “I encourage all residents to attend this free event, because in the event of a disaster, it’s critical to have a plan to get themselves and their families out of harm’s way.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department, CHP, Office of Emergency Management, Animal Care & Control, Public Works, Public Health, Red Cross and many more organizations will be available to demonstrate life-saving techniques, like CPR, and provide informational handouts.

A representative from Cal Tech will deliver a keynote address on earthquake preparation in southern California. Fair attendees will also have the opportunity to purchase emergency equipment and supplies, including first aid kits, water, food, and generators.

Jellick Elementary students raise money for Rowland Heights Library

For the past 19 years, the sixth grade students in Mrs. Buck’s class at Jellick Elementary School in Rowland Heights have kept a very special tradition going to support their local community.

Every May, her students sell colorful, plastic Rexlace strings (bracelets, key chains) after school to all the students on campus.  At the end of each May, the sixth graders walk to the Rowland Heights County Library, in order to bring their profits as a donation for the purchase of new books.

(The students take other trips during the year to learn research and study skills in the library.)

Students are eager to see how their sales stack up against previous years, where donations have ranged anywhere from $150 – $448.

Over the last 19 years, Jellick sixth graders have donated more than $7,200.00.  With those funds, the library has purchased more than 600 books.

After receiving the donation, the Children’s Librarian, Jeff Jarrett, asks the students for suggestions on how to spend the funds; such as their favorite series of books, authors or future releases.

Once the books are purchased, the library places a bookplate sticker inside the front cover, acknowledging the books as donations from Jellick Elementary students.

The most rewarding thing for the Jellick staff is seeing the 6th graders making a difference in their community and that they are helping to enrich the library’s collection of books for all ages to enjoy.

Athens prepares for trash service in Rowland Heights on July 1

Just in time for the Fourth of July celebration, Athens Services will roll out the barrels, 33,000 worth. The Industry company will begin trash service in Rowland Heights on July 1.

To do so, Athens plans to deliver 33,000 new trash bins, offering three to each residence. The containers will be the large 95-gallon roll-out cans used by automated garbage trucks.

Athens Vice President Dan Edwards attended the recent meeting of the Rowland Heights Community Coordinating Council to explain the new service. He noted the family-owned business has collected waste for more than 50 years in Los Angeles.

“For the last two decades, we’ve been the fastest-growing trash company in Southern California, and there’s some very good reasons for that,” Edwards said.

He said the core of the business is 19 exclusive contracts with area cities, where it provides all waste and recycling services. The Los Angeles County Supervisors awarded Athens a seven-year contract in the unincorporated area of Rowland Heights.

“We responded to a large request for proposals on a competitive basis,” Edwards said. “They break it down basically into different elements you can score points on. Price is weighted very heavily.”

But he said the county also looked at other factors such as experience, record and financial capability.

“The benefit to the residents of this community is you’ll be experiencing a savings of almost 20 percent off your rates,” Edwards said. “The county has done a good job of negotiating on your behalf.”

There’s also a 25 percent discount rate for seniors that Edward said is a “below cost” rate of $13.17 a month.

Residential customers will pay $17.26 a month for weekly pickup, receiving a bill for $52.68 every quarter. Residents may request an extra green waste and recyclable barrel at no extra cost.

“That’s the same price we paid when we started with United Pacific Waste seven years ago,” said Ted Ebenkamp, president of the community council. “It’s a good deal for our community.”

When skeptical residents asked if Athens had turned in a low bid only to raise rates later, Edwards assured the audience that wasn’t the case.

For more, read Rich Irwin’s story TRASH.

Residents feel Rowland Unified has lost the feeling of family

Rowland Unified has lost the feeling of being a family, of collegial cooperation, according to early results from Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates. The executive search firm has been hired to help the school district find a new superintendent.

HYA & Associates talked to more than two dozen people on Monday to find out what they were looking for in a new executive. The firm is the nation’s largest executive search firm serving public school districts.

Residents and staff made appointments to talk to HYA representatives, who also held a town hall meeting Monday night. Parents may also make appointments from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, or attend another town hall meeting at Alvarado Intermediate School at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

“We heard from a lot that it used to be a like a family and many would like it to go back to that,” explained HYA consultant Pedro Garcia. A professor of clinical education at USC, Garcia is an expert in the area of educational leadership and accountability.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story SUPERINTENDENT