A Historic Changing of the Guard

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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors: (L-R) Sheila Kuehl, HIlda Solis, Janice Hahn, Kathryn Barger and Mark Ridley-Thomas

With its newly elected members, Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger, sworn into office, the Board of Supervisors marks a turning point in the leadership of Los Angeles County.

For the first time since the Board was founded in 1852, four of its five members are women, and its chairman is African American.

“It is my honor to be a part of this newly reconstituted Board,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents the Second District. “I have no doubt this Board will represent the people of Los Angeles County in an extraordinary way.”

The Board also includes Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl, who represent the First and Third Districts, respectively.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said the Board would tackle the crisis of homelessness gripping the County and a host of other issues, including immigration; environmental stewardship; the protection of women and girls; the rights of the incarcerated; and services for foster youth. “There’s no shortage of work, no shortage of leadership, and I’m ready to get to it,” he said.

bcb_3137-2Fourth District Supervisor Janice Hahn vowed to honor the legacy of her father, the late Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, who represented the Second District for 40 years, from 1952 to 1992. The Hall of Administration, seat of county government, bears his name.

“I will bring the same passion for service that he did everyday,” she promised after being sworn in by her brother, Superior Court Judge and former Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn.

Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger took the oath of office administered by her predecessor, Michael Antonovich, who served for 36 years, starting in 1980. “All of our communities deserve an open door to their county government – and to know that the county government is committed to working for them,” she said. “I am also committed to working with everyone – those within the county, and those who partner with the county – in a cooperative, solution-driven manner that places people and problem-solving above all else.”

One of the first acts of the newly reconstituted Board will be to consider declaring an emergency on homelessness, and placing a measure on the March 7 ballot that would help fund solutions to the crisis. Both votes are scheduled the day after the swearing-in ceremonies.

barger-antonovich-swearing-inIn their joint motion to declare an emergency, Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Barger wrote, “The County of Los Angeles is facing a grave public emergency, the pervasive and deepening homeless crisis, which currently endangers the health and safety of tens of thousands of residents, including veterans, women, children, LGBTQ youth, persons with disabilities and seniors.”

They added, “The tremendous scale of homelessness in the County threatens the economic stability of the region by burdening emergency medical services and the social services infrastructure.”

Meanwhile, in a separate motion, Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Hahn called for placing a ballot initiative before voters on March 7 that would provide an estimated $355 million in annual funding to address the crisis.

 

Community Organization Finds Funding

From Culver City to From Culver City to Carson, Lynwood to Ladera Heights, leaders of nonprofit organizations serving residents in South Los Angeles attended a series of free leadership workshops. With the goal of helping non-profit organizations achieve greater sustainability, programmatic effectiveness, and financial strength, the seven-month training was designed to help participating groups strengthen and expand their capacity to serve their constituents. Founders, executive directors and other leaders of nonprofit organizations expressed appreciation after going through the program.

IMG_1396One participant, Melissa Wyatt, Executive Director of Foundation for Second Chances attended and credits the workshop for the recently awarded three-year $1.1M contract from the Department of Labor for a Youth Build program.

“I truly appreciate the Second District Capacity Building and Leadership Development Program,” Wyatt said. “The workshop was so inspiring and motivating that I knocked the budget and compliance part out of the park.”

Foundation for Second Chances is a community-based organization, which utilizes hands-on education, mentoring, health awareness and community service to maximize the potential of youth.

The Second District Capacity Building and Leadership Development Program is supported by a collaborative partnership between Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the California Community Foundation, the Empowerment Congress, and Community Partners. The program provided training and resources to help with fundraising, board effectiveness, civic engagement and financial accountability.

“Nonprofits have to be prepared to transition – there’s nothing to celebrate about doing things the way they always have been done,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas told participants at the culmination of the program. “Innovation coupled with accountability is fundamentally key to success of our human services infrastructure.”

Nancy Harris, executive director of Holman Community Development Corp., which helps with youth employment, and job readiness training, housing and education, said, “Our nonprofit is at an interesting stage where we need to take it to the next level. This process that we went through at the Supervisor’s lead has really helped me clearly see what our next level is.”
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Decriminalizing Youth Fare Evasion

metro-trainThe Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors voted unanimously to decriminalize fare evasion by youth boarding public buses and trains, acting on a motion by Metro Board member and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Metro Board Chairman and Duarte Councilman John Fasana, Board Member and County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, and Board Member and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti coauthored the motion.

“For many youth, riding without paying the fare due to economic hardship, or being perceived as riding without paying the fare, has tainted the experience of using the Metro system,” Metro Board Member and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said in the motion. “Youth of color in particular have been disproportionately cited for fare evasion – black youth represented 24% of Metro riders under age 18 years, but receive more than half of all youth citations for fare evasion.”

Often out of necessity, many youth rely heavily on the Metro system to travel to and from home, school, work and elsewhere. Paying the fare can be difficult, with about 23 percent of Los Angeles youth living below the poverty level. About 13 percent of Los Angeles youth are in a household without access to a car, and many more live in a household with only one car.

The motion seeks to ensure that youth are not punished for fare evasion with fines they are unable to pay, or be required to interact with law enforcement agencies or county probation.

“Policies must be put in place that meaningfully decriminalize and minimize rates of youth fare evasion in order to better focus law enforcement and transit security services, support school attendance, reduce youth contact with the justice system, and further encourage youth to become lifelong transit users,” Metro Board member and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

Rams Break Ground on Inglewood Stadium

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Rams owner Stan Kroenke and Inglewood Mayor James Butts

Amid cheering fans, the Los Angeles Rams broke ground on its $2.66-billion stadium in Inglewood. The largest stadium of any team in the National Football League, it is slated for completion in August 2019 and will host SuperBowl LV in 2021.

“We came to Inglewood to build the most fan-friendly stadium in the world,” Rams owner Stan Kroenke said during the groundbreaking ceremony near the site of the old Hollywood Park racetrack. “We will create lots of local jobs.”

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said, “The return of the Rams and the NFL will bring tremendous economic opportunity and civic pride to Los Angeles County and beyond.”

NFL owners voted overwhelmingly in January to allow the Rams to return to Los Angeles after 21 years in St. Louis. At the groundbreaking ceremony, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “We did it for the fans.”

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L-R: Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, Rams owner Stan Kroenke, Inglewood Mayor James Butts, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

The stadium will be sunk 100 feet into the ground and covered with a sweeping, translucent roof. The development will include a large, covered plaza, a 6,000-seat performance venue and eventually an extensive collection of commercial, retail and residential space.

Currently, the Rams play at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Exposition Park, home of the USC Trojans. When the Rams kick off in their new home, there is a chance the team might share the facility with the San Diego Chargers, who may decide to move after San Diego residents voted against using taxpayer money to build a new NFL stadium in downtown San Diego. 

The stadium is only the latest of several projects expected to spur economic development in the area. The list includes the renovation of The Forum as an internationally recognized entertainment venue; the redevelopment of Hollywood Park into a mixed-use development with housing, open space and more than 600,000 square feet of shopping and entertainment; construction of the $2 billion Crenshaw/LAX Transit line with three stations in Inglewood; and market rate housing developments that will revitalize the City’s Market Street area to rival the Third Street Promenade.

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