PUBLIC SAFETYHoliday checkpoints yield arrestsNearly two dozen...


Holiday checkpoints yield arrests

Nearly two dozen people were arrested during the holiday weekend in two operations aimed at cracking down on drunk-driving and traffic violations, police said.

Officials from San Marino, South Pasadena, Los Angeles and Burbank assisted in the two operations Friday and Saturday night throughout the city, looking for drunk drivers.

While both activities yielded arrests, Glendale Police Lt. Carl Povilaitis said more work needs to be done to reduce the number of DUI-related offenses.

At Friday's checkpoint on Brand Boulevard and Cerritos Avenue, police screened 719 vehicles and performed 25 field sobriety tests on motorists, Sgt. Dennis Smith said.

Of the 25 tests performed, three motorists were arrested on suspicion of being intoxicated, he said. Another nine motorists were arrested on suspicion of driving without a license or a revoked driver's license, and 11 vehicles were towed, police said.

Police arrested 33 motorists from Jan.1 to Dec.6, 2009, within a mile of the Brand-Cerritos intersection, Smith said.

On Saturday, police conducted a saturation patrol in which they roamed Glendale streets looking for intoxicated drivers.

Police arrested four drunk drivers and administered 17 field sobriety tests, Smith said. They stopped 59 vehicles and impounded four.

Two cyclists injured

A cyclist was injured Sunday after slamming into the rear windshield of a car he had been tailing near Verdugo Park, police said.

It was the second crash involving a cyclist in less than a week, police said.

The cyclist had been following a vehicle along Canada Boulevard and Colina Drive when the vehicle slowed down to possibly turn, Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

The cyclist hit the bumper, sending him onto the rear windshield and shattering it, Lorenz said. The cyclist, whom police did not identify, was taken to Glendale Memorial Hospital after complaining of pain and sustaining several cuts.

On Thursday, a cyclist riding easton Harvard Street about 3 p.m. was struck by a motorist leaving an alley, Lt. Carl Povilaitis said.

The motorist fled the crash, leaving the injured cyclist, he said.

Burbank police shooting suspect in court

A homeless man accused of shooting two police officers with one of their own guns remains in jail following a brief court appearance Wednesday.

Jamie Willard, 30, returned to Los Angeles County jail after a scheduled arraignment was postponed until July 22. He is being held in lieu of $3-million bail.

Willard has been charged with two counts of attempted murder after allegedly firing on the officers last Friday outside a busy Kmart store on San Fernando Boulevard.

Burbank police officers arrested Willard on suspicion of stealing Blu-ray disks when a vicious struggle broke out and he seized an officer's gun despite having his hands cuffed behind his back, Sgt. Robert Quesada said.

At a City Hall council meeting on Tuesday, Police Chief Scott LaChasse said officers had loosened Willard's handcuffs after he complained they were too tight.

Officers Derek Green, who was shot in his left hand, remains hospitalized and has undergone three operations. Green is right-handed.

Officer Alex Gutierrez is recovering at home after he was shot several times in his chest, which was protected by a bullet proof vest. A bullet fragment also ricocheted into his leg, officials said.

Willard made a brief appearance in front of Superior Court Judge Dorothy Reyes, but only to confirm that he agreed to the postponed arraignment.

Willard, of Gresham, Ore., shuffled into the courtroom wearing shackles on his feet and his hands cuffed in front of him. He had a large graze on his left cheek, which Quesada said he sustained during the scuffle with police.

Officials seek help identifying Jane Doe

The Los Angeles County coroner's office is seeking the public's help in identifying a woman whose remains were found last year in the Angeles National Forest after the Station fire.

Coroner's officials on Wednesday released a composite sketch of the Jane Doe, who officials believe was a white or Latino woman between the age of 20 and 40 at the time of death. The sketch was created using clay reconstruction technology.

The woman's skull was found Dec. 26 in a burned-out area below Angeles Forest Highway, two days after hikers there discovered a male skull with a bullet hole, officials said.

After the first discovery, forensic experts scoured the site with cadaver dogs that found the second skull, officials said. Examination of the other bones found near the skulls led forensic experts to conclude that the remains were of a man and a woman.

Several pieces of jewelry were found near the woman's remains, including a gold-colored necklace and three gold-colored rings with multicolored stones, officials said.

Investigators have said the man and woman were likely left in shallow graves, which were "partially unearthed" during the Station fire and ensuing rainfall, said Ed Winter, assistant chief at the coroner's office.

Officials suspect the bodies could have been there for years. Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators assigned to the case could not be reached for comment.

Since the woman's remains were discovered, officials have contacted law enforcement agencies, checked dental records and searched missing persons and DNA databases, but the trail has come up cold, Winter said.

The male remains have also yet to be identified, Winter said. No composite sketch has, as yet, been made.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Investigator Daniel Machian at the Los Angeles County Coroner Identifications Unit at (323) 343-0754 or the Coroner Investigations Division at (323) 343-0714.


GWP rating could be downgraded

A key bond-rating agency has warned that it will downgrade Glendale Water & Power's market status if it doesn't continue to raise water rates to make up for lost revenue brought on partly by customers using less.

The warning came in a report from Fitch Ratings, which revised the utility's future outlook from "stable" to "negative," citing diminished cash reserves, its multimillion-dollar annual transfer to the city's General Fund and increasing obligations to pay back a $50-million bond issued in 2008.

The City Council in 2007 approved a 35% increase over a three-year period to help beef up the city's rapidly depleting cash reserves.

But a $6-million drop in revenue during mandatory water conservation this year once again hit the utility's reserves, which dropped to $3 million.

Fitch officials warned that if rate increases are not adopted, the utility's AA bond rating could be downgraded, which would mean higher interest rates when borrowing for future capital projects.

Utility officials mentioned the report containing the warning during a special meeting Tuesday on a proposed 3.8% water rate increase to recoup lost revenue.

Some council members have been skeptical of the proposed increase, which they say seems to penalize residents for an overwhelming response to the city's mandatory conservation measures.

Utility bonds, a common way of financing large projects, are secured by pledges of future revenue from the utility's operations. A downgraded bond rating for water operations would not affect the utility's electric operations, which plan to issue bonds to help fund the smart-grid project, officials said.

While some council members expressed concern about the potential downgrading, others questioned whether the utility would even need to borrow for water projects in the next few years.

But on Friday, Kavounas said higher interest rates would make it harder to maintain the aging water system and implement a slew of capital projects outlined in the utility's strategic plan.

The utility has already postponed a number of scheduled improvement projects in order to minimize the rate increase proposed for this year, he said.

The lack of rate increases for much of the last decade placed pressure on current ratepayers, he added.

Gatto sworn in, again

Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) was sworn in Monday at the Autry National Center to represent California's 43rd Assembly District. The ceremony took place in front of 120 people after a brief official oath in Sacramento last month.

Gatto, who at 35 is the second-youngest lawmaker in Sacramento, took office too late in the legislative year to sponsor bills of his own, but Gatto said he already has cast key votes on measures limiting transfers of water rights from agricultural to municipal users, limiting the private information social media websites can post about teens and banning baby bottles made with bisphenol A.

The June special election was for a six-month stint to finish the term of Paul Krekorian, who won a seat on the Los Angeles City Council. Gatto will be on the November ballot seeking a full six-year term.

Lobbying racks up a tab

Government agencies in Glendale and Burbank have spent $711,000 on lobbying since the beginning of 2009 as they try to increase their take of federal dollars, stay on top of changes in energy regulations and battle school budget cuts.

Glendale spent $185,000 in 2009-10, according to databases that track state and federal lobbying expenditures. Burbank spent roughly $170,000. Glendale Community College spent $150,000. Bob Hope Airport officials, in their battle for noise controls, spent $186,000.

The cities of Glendale and Burbank focused their lobbying efforts on energy and utilities.


Job center still busy

Job seekers continue streaming into Glendale's Verdugo Jobs Center amid the shaky economic recovery.

Officials say between 9,000 and 10,000 people each month visit the center to get training or find leads on possible jobs — a telling symptom of how the slow-to-recover recession is still taking its toll on the local job market.

The figure has remained steady for the last several months, and it promises to remain that way, as national employment figures released Friday were mixed. The private sector gained more than 80,000 jobs in June, but government job losses, most notably the release of 225,000 temporary Census Bureau employees, were larger than the gains.

Don Nakamoto, labor market specialist for the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board, and Bruce Ackerman, the president of the Valley Economic Alliance, said they were pleased to see private sector growth in June, but also saw reason for caution. The growth, they said, was in large companies. Smaller businesses continue to struggle to secure financing and pay for the goods that allow them to expand.

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