As part of the “ABC7 Listens” program, a few of the station’s managers, including its president Arnold Kleiner, community relations manager Diane Medina, and reporter Sid Garcia, welcomed the El Monteans to the meeting and encouraged them to share their problems and their accomplishments, as well as their ideas as to how ABC7 could help them.
“It was a great positive and informative event,” said El Monte City Planning Commissioner Jerry Velasco, who was key in letting folks know about the meeting. “An intelligent move on the part of ABC to start a conversation that not only gives it story leads, but that also provides the community with an outlet to make their issues and events known,” he added.
Residents were encouraged to speak up about any subject they wished for an average of 90 seconds. Over 100 stories were heard, extending the meeting, which started around 6.45 p.m., until close to 10 p.m.
From positive matters, such as the “El Monte Promise,” which intends to smooth out the path for young El Monteans into higher education, to the desire to make the City more pedestrian friendly and to rescue its still standing historical landmarks, the residents expressed how they think media outlets like ABC7 could be helpful.
Two stories appeared to peak the interested of the station’s representatives immediately – the goals of the Vet Hunters (an organization dedicated to ending homelessness for military veterans and their families that was recently honored by KCET with a “Local Heroes” Award), and the plight of the residents at the Brookside mobile home park (who for months, and years, have been surviving unchecked rent raises, and who recently got Measure F voted in to enable the City to control future rent amounts.)
Along with the community, members of the El Monte City Council were present at the event, as were representatives for appointed officials like Congresswoman Grace Napolitano and Assemblyman Roger Hernandez.