Local Non-Profit Repairs Communities Across Western States

The Sierra Service Project (SSP), founded in 1975 and inspired by and modeled after the Appalachian Service Project, organizes an annual summer program in which youth volunteers help repair homes and buildings in rural and urban communities across the western United States. Originally founded by several United Methodist Church ministers, SSP is now an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It maintains a close affiliation with the United Methodist Church but also draws participants from a number of other denominations. The organization, which recently moved its headquarters from Carmichael to a storefront near Del Paso Boulevard and Arden Way in North Sacramento, works to change the lives of teenagers through selfless service to those in need. According to their website, the SSP sees their service-projects as an opportunity to put their faith in action and seeks “through acts of service repairing homes and community centers, [to invite] youth into a closer relationship with God and to experience the transformative power of serving people who have a culture and life experience different from their own.” Each program location is staffed by a Site Director, Spiritual Life Coordinator, three Construction Team members, and two Cooks. They are trained and present at the site for the entire summer, working with the community to provide quality service opportunities. The Staff participates in a ten-day training which consists of hands-on job specific […]

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Mediation: Love Hurts!

“Mediation” is a new short film by Writer/Director Francisco Lorite which had its world premiere at the New Filmmakers LA event on January 11th at the AT&T Center in Los Angeles and also be screened on February 11th at the New Filmmakers event in New York City. The film tells the story of a divorce mediation that spirals out of control for a husband(Freddy Rodriguez, “Six Feet Under”), his soon-to-be ex-wife(Marley Shelton, “Mad Men”) and their court-appointed mediator(Marilyn Sanabria, “Between”). Lorite creates a short piece of work which is filled with tension, cliches, excellent acting, and a plot which twists right up to the end of the 14-minute film. Drawn from real life and the fertile imagination of the Spaniard, the movie is introductory piece for the new production company, Top Rebel Productions, which is opening up shop in 2014. The company, led by Lorite, Rodriguez, and Producer, Bill Winett, looks to focus on developing a slate of film and TV projects—dark films, crime dramas and thrillers—which illustrate that excellent production can be accomplished with little budget. “Mediation” reflects what this focus looks like when it works. If the work has any real weakness in the film, it is that the characters lack complexity. They are what they appear to be on the surface. It is only the excellent script and camera work, both guided […]

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California Latino Students: Unfulfilled Educational Potential

What is most glaring after reading the recently released study by the Campaign for College Opportunity regarding the attendance of Latino students at the various levels of the state’s post-secondary educational system(i.e. California Community Colleges{CCC}, the California State University{CSU} schools and the University of California{UC} schools) and their graduation rates is what is not emphasized in the statistics nor the media analysis. The report and the media seem more interested in promoting the creation of a mandate that each level have a proportion of Latino students equal to the percentage number of eligible Latino students in the general population and less in addressing major questions which are fundamental. These issues include the high school graduation rates of Latino students in California, the related academic preparation/achievement of the students, and the support resources needed to plan for attendance at the more prestigious state public schools. Looking at these less emphasized points in the report provide a better view to a solution than those emphasized in the report and the main stream media reports on it. Latino students in California are less likely to finish high school or obtain a GED than their counterparts in other racial groups in the state. Just over 40% of Latinos do not have a High School diploma/GED. This compares with 19% for California overall(Whites 6%, African Americans 11%, and Asian/Pacific Islanders […]

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The sky (and beyond) is the limit for “Captain Mama”

  “Literature can open up limitless opportunities for Latino children especially for young girls.” —Graciela Tiscareño-Sato The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word, “hero”, as a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities; a person who is greatly admired. Graciela Tiscareño-Sato  fits this definition in every respect. The daughter of Mexican immigrants Arturo and Tina Tiscareño, Graciela was the first person in her family to attend college. She was encouraged by her high school counselor’s husband, a US Air Force officer, to apply for an Air Force ROTC scholarship. That way, the military would pay for her education first, in exchange for a minimum of four years of service afterward as a military leader. Graciela was awarded the four-year AFROTC scholarship and attended the University of California at Berkeley as a military cadet. In four and a half years, she completed a degree in Environmental Design/Architecture and the Aerospace Studies program. Commissioned as an officer upon graduation, Graciela embarked on a distinguished military career in the Air Force as a navigator and instructor onboard the KC135R refueling tanker. On her first deployment to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, she helped enforce the No-fly Zone in southern Iraq after the first Gulf War. At a time when the U.S. military officially excluded women from flying in combat operations, Graciela and her crew earned the […]

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Ask the County Law Librarian — Homeowners Bill of Rights

Q. Hello. I submitted a loan modification application to my mortgage company on August 1. They sent me a letter on August 7 stating that the modification was “under review.” On August 20, they recorded a “notice of trustee sale.” My neighbor told me that they couldn’t do this because of some new law that protected homeowners against foreclosure. Is this true? I can’t believe they would sell my house out from under me when we’ve been talking about modifying the loan! I feel so betrayed. Please help! Molly A. Oh, Molly, I’m so sorry—that sounds awful! Depending upon the circumstances, there are a couple of new laws that might help you—California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights (HOBR) and the National Mortgage Settlement NMS). Key provisions of HBOR, Attorney General Kamela Harris’ response to the state’s foreclosure and mortgage crisis, effective January 1, 2013, include: • Restriction on dual track foreclosure: Mortgage servicers are restricted from advancing the foreclosure process if the homeowner is working on securing a loan modification. When a homeowner completes an application for a loan modification, the foreclosure process is essentially paused until the complete application has been fully reviewed. • Guaranteed single point of contact: Homeowners are guaranteed a single point of contact as they navigate the system and try to keep their homes – a person or team at the […]

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Ask the County Law Librarian – Security Deposit Maximums

Q. I was just informed that my landlord pulled a fast one on me. Is it against the law to require first and last months’ rent, a deposit, and a pet deposit? My rent is $850; the deposit is $500; plus a $450 pet deposit! Can my landlord do this? – Danielle A. The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including your definition of “pulled a fast one”! But, to answer your specific question as to whether it’s legal for a landlord to require fees at the beginning of the tenancy, which typically include the first month’s rent and a security deposit: yes, it is perfectly legal and in fact these are very common provisions in rental agreements and leases in California. In regard to the cost of rent, there’s no state or federal law that restricts the amount of rent a landlord can charge; legally, he or she can charge whatever they want, unless the premises are under the jurisdiction of local rent-control ordinances. To find out if you live in a city with rent control, you can check out the California Courts‘ list of cities with rent control. You can also contact your local housing officials or rent control board, visit your local law library, or read your city or county ordinances online. In contrast to rental rates, state laws […]

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Opinion: Mayonnaise as California’s official state condiment

“Miracle Whip is (the) gateway condiment (to mayonnaise).” –George Young on Facebook 10-3-2013 Coming from Wisconsin, I grew up having mayonnaise in many different food items which I came to enjoy eating over the years: egg salad, potato salad(about 8 or 9 different variations), tuna salad, etc. I know that a certain percentage of the female population of my state looked upon mayonnaise as an excellent hair conditioning item. When I moved here to California, I found that suddenly I was running into mayonnaise being put on foods that I had never seen nor considered to be mayonnaise foods, including it being included on almost every sandwich I ate and served as a condiment for hot dogs and hamburgers. I have even witnessed individuals using it as a condiment with french fries in place of ketchup. The sight of fries being dipped into mayo takes some getting used to. It seemed that I had entered a land where there was a law which required that mayonnaise had to be included in every food served(I checked and couldn’t find one. Thank, God!). So what is this obsession in California with mayonnaise? Was there some dark, desperate moment in the Bear Republic’s history that humble mayonnaise saved the state from disaster? I checked on the state government’s website and couldn’t find it listed as an official symbol. […]

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“The Birds” of Sacramento

If you stand near the corner of 7th and K Street in the early morning hours as the sun starts to rise and the downtown area comes back to a full roaring existence after mellowing for a few hours during the darkness, you can be witness to a scene straight out of a Hollywood classic film.  It begins with an isolated ‘caw’.  Soon, it is followed by another and another and another and another…  The sounds of dozens of blackbirds screaming out at the top of their lungs draws your attention to the skies above this section of downtown adjacent to St. Rose of Lima Park. You look up and witness a scene which is reminiscent of  Alfred Hitchcock‘s film, The Birds.  The winged animals perform an aerial ballet which is full of beauty and wonder but, somewhere in the more primitive part of your brain, you also feel a bit of fear and concern.  You almost unconsciously conjour up images of the fantastic movie made by the master of psychological drama.  This is especially true when you realize(yes, I looked it up on MapQuest), that 7th and K is only about 100 miles from Bodega Bay, California, the setting of this film classic.  You can easily imagine the birds swooping down on early morning commuters and students on the way to school, attacking them […]

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Ask the County Law Librarian – Attorney complaints

Q: I hired a lawyer to help me with my divorce and while he was working on my case, he asked to borrow $10,000. I felt pressured to loan it to him, so I did. It has been 2 years, and he told me he has no intention of paying it back. I feel he was dishonest. How can I get his license revoked so he can’t do this to someone else? Juan A: Sorry to hear about your situation. Protecting California’s consumers is one of the primary missions of The State Bar of California . The State Bar has a limited authority to address unethical behaviors by attorneys as defined in the Rules of Professional Conduct and the State Bar Act. Licensed attorneys are bound to follow these rules if they want to remain in good standing and continue to practice law. According to the State Bar website, the” Attorney Discipline System, which takes complaints against attorneys from citizens and other sources, investigates those complaints and prosecutes attorneys against whom allegations of unethical conduct appear to be justified”. To lodge a complaint against an attorney you must mail the complaint form to the address indicated on the form. Depending on the type of offense, the penalties will vary from a warning or being unable to practice law in California. In an effort to help […]

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Ask the County Law Librarian – Statutory Will Form

Q: I would like to write a will, to make sure everything is taken care of if anything happens to me. I don’t have a lot of property, but as a single parent, I’m concerned about making sure I appoint someone to care for my son in the event of my death. I’ve called a few lawyers, but it is really expensive, so I think I will need to do it myself.  I found lots of forms online, but they’re all different. I want to make sure it’s legally binding, but I don’t know what’s required. Any suggestions where I can find information about this? Thanks! Craig A: You have several options, depending on the size of your estate and how you would like it distributed. If your estate is fairly simple, you may want to consider using the California Statutory Will, which is spelled out in Section 6240 of the California Probate Code. The California State Bar has uploaded this simple will form to its website, which you can download for free. This will form works well for California residents with simple estates, allowing for specific gifts of real estate, vehicles, cash, and household and personal effects. This will form also includes clauses for appointing a guardian to care for minor children, and a custodian to take control of assets left to minor children. […]

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