Category Archives: pop






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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                            March 13, 2018

Lizbeth Mateo,,  310-367-7774
Ed Washatka,,  310-489-9951


The most important goal of the next police chief will be to establish trust with Pasadena residents, and the community should have a say on who will take on this important job. 

Pasadena, CA. In light of Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez’s resignation, Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP!) calls on the City to engage the public in an open and transparent process to select the new leader for the city’s police department. As this matter will undoubtedly impact Pasadena greatly, POP! urges City Manager Steve Mermell to work with stakeholders in the identification of skills and qualities needed in the next Chief of Police, as well as gather constituent input during the selection process. Those called upon in this joint effort should include: the local branches of the NAACP and ACLU, the Coalition for Increased Oversight of the Pasadena Police (CICOPP), POP!, and many others.

“During his tenure as the leader of Pasadena Police Department, we worked with Chief Sanchez on many important issues and we commend him for being accessible to the community,” said Juliana Serrano, a member of POP!’s Executive Committee.  “While the department has faced many challenges, we recognize that it does many things right. However, there is much room for improvement. POP! believes that more can be done to become the department that truly serves Pasadena’s diverse community.”

Misconduct by police is a nationwide problem and Pasadena is no exception.  It cannot be fixed simply by replacing police chiefs. It requires changing the relationship between the police and the community.  The most important goal of the next police chief will be to establish trust with Pasadena residents, especially African American and Latino residents who have been the victims of racial profiling, excessive force, and other police practices that undermine healthy police-community relations.

The most egregious recent example is the beating of Christopher Ballew by two patrol officers in Altadena on November 9, 2017.

“Allowing those police officers to remain on patrol while an investigation was pending aggravated public distrust of the department” said Kimberly Douglas, POP! co-chair. It was only after community groups — including CICOPP, NAACP, ACLU, Pasadenans and Altadenans Against Police Violence, Indivisible Alta-Pasadena, Neighbors Building A Better Altadena, CLUE, and POP! — demanded that these two officers be removed from the streets that Chief Sanchez finally assigned them to desk duty. However, the beating of Mr. Ballew was only the latest incident that strained the trust between the PPD and the community.

Many grassroots groups have pushed the Mayor, City Council, City Manager, and Chief Sanchez to make the PPD more accountable to the public and to address chronic problems of police-community relations.

“We were successful in getting the PPD to end its cooperation with federal immigration agents that could lead to the deportation of innocent Pasadena residents, but it should not have taken such a sustained community organizing effort to pressure a reluctant City Council and City Manager to adopt these policies” said Pablo Alvarado, POP! co-chair and Executive Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, one of the leading organizations fighting for immigrant rights.

Every effort to reform the PPD has taken a sustained organizing effort by community groups, including recently getting the City to pledge to collect racial and demographic data on every police interaction with the community, three years before it is required to do so under new state law –the Racial Identity and Profiling Act (RIPA). Early implementation of RIPA will help systemically identify the magnitude of racial profiling in the City of Pasadena.

The resignation of Chief Sanchez is no guarantee that the crisis afflicting the PPD will be resolved.  The intransigence of the Department has several sources. One is a City Council and City leaders who have shown little interest and leadership in making much needed changes and have instead dug in their heels in defense of status quo policies and performance. Another is the opposition of the Pasadena Police Officers Association to every meaningful reform proposal.

“Most Pasadena police officers are responsible public servants. They deserve decent pay, working conditions, and ongoing training” said Ed Washatka, a POP! executive committee member and a graduate of the department’s Community Police Academy program. “The leadership of their union has often been an obstacle to reform, overzealously defending the bad practices of those officers who violate the public trust.”

The next Pasadena police chief needs to be someone who is willing to work with and listen to the community. Now more than ever we need local leadership to do more to protect human rights, civil rights, and immigrant rights, as our Federal government seems to be doing everything it can to undermine those rights.

But we cannot put our faith in a single individual, regardless of how responsible and committed he or she is to addressing the concerns of the Pasadena community. POP! and others will remain focused on our goals of police reform that includes but is not limited to, increased training and the hiring of an independent police auditor, to ensure that police are accountable to the city’s residents. POP! looks forward to the opportunity to work with Interim Chief John Perez.


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Canvass for Rent Control in Pasadena!

Join POP! members this Saturday at the Pasadena Community Job Center to support the Pasadena Tenants Union to gather signatures for Pasadena Fair and Equitable Housing Charter Amendment for Rent Control & Just Cause Ballot.

We all know that rents are out of control in Pasadena and many low income families are being pushed out of our communities because they can no longer afford to live in our City. Please join us this Saturday to canvas with POP! and the PTU.

Come to the Job Center (500 N. Lake Ave) at 9 AM, meet other POP! members, pick up a signature packet, and receive training on rent control and just cause. We will canvass the neighborhood to collect signatures starting at 10 AM.

Please be sure to:

-Wear comfortable clothing
-Bring a bag for easy storage of petition and fliers
-Bring black pens (we will have some but bring an extra one if you can!)

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Press Release: Systematic Wage Theft Alleged in Construction of Pasadena Housing Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                        December 19, 2017


Lizbeth Mateo,, 310-367-7774
Caleb Soto, Esq.,, (305) 582-8868

Systematic Wage Theft Alleged in Construction of Pasadena Housing Project 

Two workers at a Pasadena housing project have filed a complaint with the Labor and Workforce Development Agency to collect up to 1 million in wages and fines.

Pasadena, CA, December 19, 2017 – Two Pasadena construction workers at an affordable housing project that is partially funded by the City of Pasadena filed a complaint on December 14, 2017 alleging “systematic wage theft” against the project’s general contractor.

The complaint by Pasadena residents Lorenzo Aragon and Bayron Lopez alleges that RAAM Construction Corp. and its agents required them and other low-wage workers to give kickbacks to the project’s foremen, failed to pay them for overtime and weekend work, denied them statutorily-required meal and rest breaks, and misclassified them as independent contractors rather than as employees.  Aragon also alleges that he was fired after he objected to the wage theft.  Lopez alleges that he quit because of the wage theft and was therefore “constructively discharged” (a legal term for quitting when working conditions are intolerable).

The Aragon-Lopez complaint, filed with the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (“LWDA”) seeks to recover, under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”), fines for both themselves and other affected workers, keep 25% of the fines, and pay 75% of them to the LWDA. The complaint alleges that RAAM and its agents are liable for more than $1 million dollars in such fines.

The Aragon-Lopez complaint provides that, among other things: “[RAAM and its agents misclassified] low-wage workers doing manual work on a housing construction project at Summit Street and Orange Grove Avenue in the City of Pasadena, California (“the Summit-Orange Grove Project”) and other sites both inside Pasadena and in other areas, failing and refusing to make required reductions from their pay, requiring them to work for no pay for overtime and weekend hours, requiring them to kickback to the contractor or its agents portions of their wages in order to preserve their jobs, failing and refusing to allow them statutorily required meal and rest breaks, failing to provide them at times any itemized pay stubs, failing at other times to provide them accurate pay stubs, and terminating their employment when they objected to Labor Code violations.  The claimants [ . . . ] courageously objected to the wage theft of the general contractor and its agents and [were] consequently discharged from employment.”

Caleb Soto, a staff attorney for the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (“NDLON”) and one of the attorneys representing Aragon and Lopez, explained that the complaint filed with the LWDA is a necessary step before bringing a lawsuit. LWDA will have 30 days from the filing date to decide whether it will prosecute the claims; if it elects to not prosecute them, then the workers’ attorneys will file an action in Los Angeles Superior Court to recover unpaid wages, damages for wrongful termination, and the fines for the violations against all of the construction workers.

Lorenzo Aragon said during today’s press conference, “all I want is justice and to be paid for the work that I did. We have families to feed and we work hard to provide for them. I think that the fair thing to do is to pay us for all the work that we did.”

Bayron Lopez expressed how difficult is for workers to speak out and said, “At first I was afraid to speak out for fear of losing my job. I thought it would be best to stay quiet, keep my head down and keep working. Now I realize that I have rights and so do all workers. We all deserve to be paid what we are owed.”

Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of NDLON, said: “The Summit-Orange Grove Housing Project, which is being developed by Heritage Housing Partners (“HHP”), is a laudable effort by the City to address Pasadena’s affordable housing crisis. We fully support City funding of the project. However, it is unconscionable that low-income workers who are part of the class for whom the affordable housing is being developed are exploited by wage theft from a contractor’s agents during the construction of the housing.  Failing to pay workers for their time is a minimum wage violations, therefore we urge the City to also take enforcement action against RAAM and its agents for violating the City’s minimum wage ordinance and to begin to monitor more carefully all construction for which it provides any funding.”

Kimberly Douglas, co-chair of Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP!) stated that “our coalition of faith, labor and progressive communities organized in 2016 to improve the wage conditions for low wage workers who otherwise have little or no political leverage.  We believe a society is best measured by the conditions that prevail among those with the least.  Pasadena can and should be a fair and just community.  Our coalition is committed to that goal.”

Wage theft is a big problem, especially in low wage industries. Just this week, a study by the Economic Policy Institute revealed that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recovered $2 Billion in stolen wage in 2015 and 2016. In California, $116,723,603 in stolen wages were recovered for both years by the state labor department. But as the study points out, it is just a drop in the bucket. In that context, our efforts to recover the wages of Aragon and Lopez are more important than ever.


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