Even before becoming the first Latino on the Bell Gardens City Council, Rosa Maria Hernandez said critics labeled her a sellout for trying to mend fences between the city's Anglo administration and its Latino population. At her first council meeting a woman shouted, "Baloney!" when Hernandez professed her solidarity with the city's 37,000 Latinos, 88% of the population. "When people started accusing me of selling out, I struggled a lot," she said. Hernandez, who once called the council uncaring, must convince her critics that she is genuine. "I have to reach them, make them understand that the accusations are not true," she said.
* In Southern California's quest for improved air quality, egulations governing auto body paint shops, among other small businesses, could well be proposed. Enter Professional Hispanics in Energy. PHIE President Cathy Villamor says the 2-year-old group has 100 members from public utilities, oil companies, transportation firms and regulatory agencies. "Hispanics may own the business, Hispanics work there, and the Hispanic community uses those services," she said. "Such a regulation would have a heavy impact on that community." A Southern California Gas Co. computer and communications manager, Villamor, 35, said PHIE provides "forums where the energy industry and the Hispanic community can come together."