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California

SCE Offers Tips to Reduce Wasted Energy Usage

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Southern California Edison (SCE) wants to warn its customers about the “energy vampires” throughout their homes and businesses. Common household devices and appliances still draw electricity even when they are off or in “sleep” mode. And that additional energy use can result in higher electricity bills.

Consumer electronics account for about 15 percent of all residential electricity consumption.

Electric devices – such as televisions, stereos, phone chargers, DVD players, computers, and microwave ovens – can be energy guzzlers. Simply plugging the devices into a power strip and turning it off (or unplugging the appliances completely) can save up to 5 percent on the average bill.

SCE encourages its customers to look for the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR symbol when shopping for electronics and appliances.

The iconic blue star signifies that the model is among the most energy-efficient of its kind. ENERGY STAR-labeled products usually are competitive in terms of price and performance compared to less efficient models.

Some other facts to consider:

· ENERGY STAR-qualified TVs and set boxes use up to 30 percent less energy than comparable electronics that do not carry the energy-efficient label; home-entertainment equipment such as DVD players use up to 37 percent less. If all TVs sold in the United States met ENERGY STAR requirements, the savings in energy costs would grow to about $1 billion annually, and greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by the equivalent of about 1 million cars.

· A computer monitor with the ENERGY STAR symbol uses about 22 percent less electricity; a PC up to 33 percent less. If each computer and monitor in homes across the nation were to go into energy-saving “sleep” mode when not in use, more than $1 billion in annual energy costs would be saved.

· Telephones with the ENERGY STAR label use up to 58 percent less energy.

· As many as 2.4 billion external power adapters are in use in the United States – that’s about eight for every person.

These external power supplies contribute to about 12 percent of the national electric bill. Look for ENERGY STAR-qualified external power supplies, and use power strips as centralized turnoff points once finished with use of the equipment.

Holly Mitchell Announces Candidacy for State Assembly

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Community and political leaders from across the Inland Empire gathered at the home of longtime Riverside residents and event hosts Al and Ola Faye Stephens to support the candidacy of Holly Mitchell for State Assembly. Holly, a native Angeleno thanked those who gathered for their longtime support of she and her family.

“You all have always been very good to me...as a student leader at Poly High and UCR in the 80’s through today...” Mitchell noted.

Mitchell is running for the 47th AD, the seat currently held by Speaker of the Assembly Karen Bass, who has enthusiastically endorsed Mitchell’s candidacy.

Community leaders Lois Carson, Dr. Carolyn Murray, Dell Roberts and Barbara Smith co-hosted the event that aimed to raise necessary funds to help guarantee Mitchell’s success in the 2010 election.

Assemblywoman Wilmer Carter, who joins many of her legislative colleagues in endorsing Mitchell, stated that she is hopeful that more candidates with Mitchell’s background would consider running for public office.

With over 50 people in attendance, Mitchell spoke eloquently about her concerns about the future state budget, the economy, public education and how all of our communities will fair. “Our elected leaders have got to make the needs of working families and our children a legislative priority,” she stated, “and those are issues that are critical to us all.”

Historic Healthcare Plan Clears Key Senate Hurdle

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By BVN Staff –

Historic legislation to expand U.S. health care and control costs won its first Republican supporter Tuesday and cleared a key Senate hurdle, a double-barreled triumph that propelled President Barack Obama’s signature issue toward votes this fall in both houses of Congress.

“When history calls, history calls,” said Maine Republican Olympia Snowe whose declaration of support ended weeks of suspense and provided the only drama of a 14-9 vote in the Senate Finance Committee.

With her decision, the 62-year-old lawmaker bucked her own leadership on the most high-profile issue of the year in Congress, and gave the drive to remake health care at least a hint of the bipartisanship that Obama seeks.

At the White House, Obama called the events “a critical milestone” toward remaking the nation’s health care system. He praised Snowe as well as Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the committee, and declared, “We are going to get this done.”

There were fresh challenges. Within minutes of the vote, labor unions and large business organizations both demanded changes in the bill, which was an attempt at a middle-of-the-road measure fashioned by the committee under Baucus’ leadership.

Still, nearly nine months after the president pledged in his Inaugural Address to tackle health care, legislation to expand coverage to millions who lack it has now advanced further than President Bill Clinton’s ill-fated effort more than a decade ago - or any other attempt in more than a generation.

The next move in the Senate is up to Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose office said the full Senate would begin debate on the issue the week of Oct. 26.

So Cal Fair –Traditions New and Old

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New fangled gizmos and widgets. Old fashioned quilts and fluffy cotton candy.

Different images come to mind when you hear the word “fair”. Regardless of what images come to your mind, the Southern California has it all. From traditions like jams, jellies, corn dogs and tractors to more modern things like scrapbook pages, websites, Euro Bungees and the newest deep fried concoction the fair is a place the whole family will enjoy.

Maybe your family comes to the fair every year to enjoy the entertainment and fabulous shopping. Or maybe you came out as a kid with your parents or grandparents and watched the demolition derby or livestock shows. With the amazingly low cost and incredible value, the fair is a tradition your family should continue to enjoy or start enjoying now!

You won’t find a better way to stretch your entertainment dollar then the Southern California Fair. For the low price of admission – you get all the arena shows, all the family acts, all the exhibits, all the displays, all the livestock shows, all the music, all the opportunities to shop for the truly unique, all the contests and so much more. It’s a fantastic way to spend time with your family without breaking the bank.

So whether the fair is a long time family tradition or you’re new to the experience, make plans now to attend the Inland Empire’s best entertainment bargain The Southern California Fair runs October 10th through 18th.

For more information about the fair please visit the website at socalfair.com or call the fair office at 951-657-4221.

Aging in the Inland Empire: African American Elders in Peril

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By Linnie Frank Bailey,
New America Media, News Report –

Melendez said the increased cases of elder self-neglect are one sign of widespread angst among seniors over the deteriorating economy and fear about what the future holds.

This fear of the future is aggravated by recent budget cuts in California affecting senior services and programs. Many elders are living a retirement a lot broker than they planned, and they don’t know where to turn for help. Melendez said her organization is one of many that try to help seniors find resources, however it is harder as programs are cut.

The California Budget – “Nothing to Celebrate”

After a protracted battle, California state legislators approved a state budget on July 24, 2009, to address the state’s $26 billion debt. The negotiated bipartisan budget cut billions of dollars from local governments, education and social services.

That included reductions in programs affecting low-income seniors, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), MediCal, In Home Support Services and Adult Day Health Centers.

Initially, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended eliminating many programs in his May budget. The legislature, though, decided to cut programs, some drastically, but not completely zero out vital programs.

Subsequently, the governor used his line-item veto authority to slash an additional $489 million in cuts.

The governor “blue-penciled” all state funding for Community Based Service Programs in 2009-10. Some the services now denied funds to operate are:

· Alzheimer’s Day Care Resource Centers, specialized daytime programs for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias;

· The Brown Bag Program, which provided surplus and donated edible fruits, vegetables and other food to low income individuals ages 60 and older;

· Respite Purchase of Services, enabling caregivers for frail elders or functionally impaired adult to get relief time away from the constant stress of care;

· Senior Companion programs, in which older volunteers assist their impaired or terminally ill peers with a range of in-home assistance aimed at helping them remain at homes or in community settings (and out of institutions) for as long as possible.

After signing his revised $84.6 billion budget plan for the coming year, the governor stated, “These are ugly cuts” and “nothing to celebrate,” but, “we cannot afford the programs we used to be able to afford even two years ago.”

And he announced that he had increased the governor’s discretionary fund to a half-billion dollars—about the amount of his line item cuts—for use in future emergencies and did so without raising taxes.

“It starts with Downsizing”

You see them at the supermarket, lingering over the selections in the bread aisle, or going thorough the marked down items at the back of the store. At the register, they carefully count out change to pay for three to five items. Were you to follow them home you might find empty refrigerators and cupboards.

“It starts with downsizing,” Melendez said. “We are seeing seniors and their caregiver families look for less expensive housing options. Seniors in assisted living retirement communities are having to find less expensive housing options because they have lost savings. Some move from a two-bedroom to a one-bedroom, others are moving in with relatives and others are placed in nursing homes by family members.”

Seniors are being affected by the same economic perils facing all Americans. They have lost funds in the stock market and equity in their homes. Melendez observed, “The difference is elders don’t have the 10, 15 or 20 years it will take to rebuild their finances.”

She added, “This is causing great depression among those who thought they did everything right. They’re now looking closely at every expense and are cutting out all but the essentials. Depression is high among this age group.”

Some are suffering from too much credit card debt. A recent study shows credit card balances for low-and-middle income seniors soared by 26 percent in the past four years.

The report, by the policy group Demos, suggests that older adults, accustomed to cashing out home equity to pay bills, are finding themselves in the same predicament as younger borrowers because of falling real estate values, shrinking portfolios and rising energy costs.

With family members also strapped for cash, seniors are turning to credit to pay their bills as well as to relatives for help. Also, elders tend to have higher health care costs than younger borrowers. The Demos study says widening gaps between health care costs and insurance coverage are likely forcing some seniors to pay for medical expenses with credit cards. Maria Diaz knows many families who have used credit to pay the bills. She says people are barely holding on in her Riverside-area neighborhood, an enclave of working class Latino, African-American and white families. She sees families doubling up in small houses to make ends meet. Diaz, who shares a house with her mother, age 88, and a grown son, said budget cuts will take a toll on her family.

“Through In Home Supportive Services I pay a local woman to watch my mother, but she makes almost as much as I do, so much of my salary goes to her.”

She added, because of the new budget, her hourly rates are being cut and my mom’s SSI payments are shrinking. We all are struggling, but I know we have it better than some in this neighborhood.”

Riverside County, where Diaz lives, has the eighth-highest foreclosure rate in the United States. According to RealtyTrac, Riverside County is second in the state in foreclosure volume. One in 17 households is slipping into some stage of foreclosure during the first six months of the year. San Bernardino County was fourth, with one in 19 households in default.

According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, foreclosures were far more common last year among black mortgage holders. The report states, “African American borrowers were 3.3 times as likely as white borrowers to be in foreclosure, whereas Latino and Asian borrowers were 2.5 and 1.6 times respectively more likely to be in foreclosure as white borrowers.”

Unemployment in both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties is near 13%. Among African-Americans and Latinos it is higher, by some estimates 17-19%. While younger seniors with jobs are putting off retirement, a number of adults 65-plus are trying to re-enter the tough labor market to help make ends meet.

Jackie Melendez believes the situation for seniors in the Inland area will continue to deteriorate, at least until the economy turns around. “These are people who never before needed help with housing, transportation, or food. Where will we send them?”

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