Featured items on homepage for top stories…

Interfaith Summit on Homelessness

image9-1 Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas urged more than 100 faith leaders and their respective congregations to coalesce around efforts to address homelessness – including at the ballot box.

Describing homelessness as “a crisis of historic proportions that demands a moral solution,” he urged Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders gathered at the LA Voice Faith Leaders’ Summit on Housing and Homelessness to vote for Proposition HHH on November 8, as well as a possible ballot measure on March 7 that could raise $355 million a year to pay for services to the homeless.

“Los Angeles County has put forward $100 million in new, one-time funding to implement its strategies for addressing homelessness – but sustaining these strategies in the years to come will require additional, ongoing funds,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “That’s why we’re looking at placing a ¼-cent general sales tax on the March ballot, which would not only put a roof over people’s heads but provide the services they need to remain stably housed.”

image6He said the potential March ballot measure would go hand-in-hand with the City of Los Angeles’ Proposition HHH, which is intended to fund the construction of affordable housing.

Rev. Zachary Hoover, executive director of LA Voice, said the interfaith community, working together, could play a role in alleviating the crisis. “There’s an amazing amount of service that happens in congregations all across LA County, the state and the country,” he said. “Sometimes we just need some help figuring out how we’re going to make systemic change, how we can raise our voices for things like Prop HHH and other measures that can make a much bigger dent on the problem.”

Rev. Kevin Sauls, senior pastor of Holman Methodist Church, which hosted the summit, pledged his support. “We’re signed up for the long haul,” he said.

During the summit, Rabbi Ronit Tsadok of IKAR LA, asked participants to envision what they would like to accomplish on homelessness. The answers included: restore human dignity, and equal opportunities and resources to all people.

Imam Ameen Omar, resident Imam of Masjid Al-Shareef of Long Beach, stressed the need to help the homeless, saying, “Members of this universal body are hurting and we feel their pain.”

“We’re stepping up to the plate, and doing the work,” he said, adding, “May God bless us, continue to bestow upon us the courage and the tenacity so that we will not give in nor give up because there’s much more ahead for us to do.”



Tech Extravaganza Inspires Youngsters

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas welcomed more than 100 middle and high schoolers from across Los Angeles County to the Microsoft YouthSpark DigiCamp Extravaganza, to encourage them to consider careers in technology.

img_2699“You are the next generation of inventors, scientists, and developers,” he told the enthusiastic youngsters, including students of Lou Dantzler Preparatory Charter High School. “I look forward to seeing how your ideas and your creativity will contribute to bettering the communities and the world in which we live.”

Microsoft organized the two-day bootcamp, held in Microsoft Square at L.A. Live, as part of a series of programs to benefit the community. The event featured hands-on breakout sessions and a hackathon in which students were given the opportunity to code.

img_2696“I’m hoping these kids can learn about technology and be young spark plugs for the future!” said Forest Riley, assistant teen development coordinator for the Watts/Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club, who said opportunities for applying new technology abound at the neighboring Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital.

Microsoft organized the event in partnership with the Brotherhood Crusade, Center for Digital Inclusion, Challengers Boys & Girls Club, Sunburst Youth Academy National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, Titus Single Parent Mentoring, and Watts/Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has previously reached out to young boys and girls of color to bridge the digital divide, encouraging them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. In October 2015, he hosted the County’s first hack day at Lennox Library, in which technology giants Microsoft, IDEO, CGI and NeoGov led workshops for about 100 youth ages 16-25 on such topics as turning an idea into a product, developing software applications, and launching a career in Information Technology. Students were able to create their own apps and share their innovations with one another.

In March 2016, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas spoke at a DigiGirlz Day event, co-sponsored with Girls Build LA, that urged middle and high school girls to identify a problem in their communities and engineer a plan to solve it. Students from Grace Hopper STEM Academy in Inglewood and Orville Wright Middle School STEAM Magnet in Westchester were among those who participated.


A Breakthrough for the Crenshaw/LAX Line

harriet_Construction of the $2-billion rail line through South Los Angeles to LAX hit a major milestone as the engineering marvel dubbed “Harriet” finished excavating a mile-long tunnel beneath Crenshaw Boulevard and broke through to what would become the Leimert Park Station.

“For decades, the thought of a rail stop at the center of African American culture in Los Angeles was no more than a dream,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who serves on the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “Today, as Harriet blazes a path to what will someday become the Leimert Park Station, we can finally celebrate that dream becoming reality.”

“This is one more milestone for this very important link in our fast-growing transit network,” added Metro Board Chair and Duarte City Council Member John Fasana. “It won’t be long until we’re out here celebrating the beginning of rail service in this vital corridor.”

map_crenshawlax_engSlated for completion in Fall 2019, the 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project will have eight stations serving passengers in the Crenshaw District, Leimert Park, Inglewood, Westchester, and LAX. Its northern terminus will connect to the Expo Line, while the southern terminus will link up with the Green Line. Accommodations will be provided for an additional station at 96th Street with easy rail and bus transfers to the future LAX people mover to airport terminals.

It took the tunnel boring machine, which the local community named after Harriet Tubman, legendary conductor of the Underground Railroad, six months to dig the first of twin tunnels that would link the Crenshaw/Expo, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Leimert Park Stations. The 950-ton, 400-foot long, 21-foot wide Harriet will now have to be taken apart, hauled back to its starting point at Crenshaw and Exposition Boulevards, lowered into the ground and reassembled to dig the second tunnel, which would house  the rail line’s northbound tracks.

Funded through Measure R, a half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2008, the Crenshaw/LAX Line is projected to have a daily ridership of 13,000 to 16,000. It would be the first to serve the area since street cars – dubbed “Yellow Cars” – stopped running in the 1950’s.

“After the demise of the streetcars, Los Angeles residents dreamed and fought for years for a return of rail transit to the Crenshaw corridor,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board First Vice Chair Eric Garcetti. “That dream is now becoming a reality and we will soon have easy access via transit to some of our city’s oldest neighborhoods and LAX.”

Metro CEO Phillip Washington added, “When the Crenshaw/LAX Rail Line opens in 2019, the real winners will be the traveling public as the Metro rail system offers more mobility options to Los Angeles county residents.”



Board Appoints Internal Services Director

5x71The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appointed Scott Minnix to oversee its Internal Services Department, whose responsibilities include maintaining more 13 million square feet of County property, operating the County’s information technology and communications systems, and various administrative, finance and environmental sustainability services.

“I look forward to Scott leading a transformation in the Internal Services to enhance customer service, prioritize innovation and improve efficiency,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said.

Minnix comes to Los Angeles from Texas, where he served for nearly six years as director of Houston’s General Services Department, overseeing its annual budget and the day-to-day building operations of nearly 400 facilities, representing more than 8 million square feet of occupied space. Prior to joining the City of Houston,Minnix held an executive position for the City of Seattle, overseeing property management and maintenance at City Hall, police precincts, fire stations and other facilities spanning 3 million square feet, and administering an $80M budget.

A former officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve, Minnix received a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration/Management from the University of Puget Sound.

At ISD, one of his primary tasks would be to consolidate the County’s existing 48 data centers into a single Countywide Enterprise Data Center in El Segundo, which Supervisor Ridley-Thomas believes would “modernize our I.T. systems in the most cutting-edge, energy efficient and cost effective way.”

ISD is currently renovating AC Bilbrew Library in unincorporated Willowbrook. IN partnership with the County’s Treasurer and Tax Collector, ISD also launched the residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which allows homeowners to finance energy efficiency and water conservation retrofits through annual property assessments.


Coliseum Commission Receives Restitution

los_angeles_memorial_coliseumThe Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission is poised to receive $180,000 in restitution from two concert promoters accused of bribing its former assistant general manager.

Insomniac Events’ Pasquale Rotella agreed to pay $150,000, and Go Ventures’ Reza Gerami, $30,000, in separate plea deals to avoid further prosecution. Both made the payments to the Los Angeles County Treasurer and Tax Collector.

On a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to set aside that money for the Coliseum Commission, which had suffered financial losses as a result of Rotella and Gerami’s illegal actions.

“Fairness and equality mandate that all of the restitution paid by the criminal defendants in this case be returned to the Commission, which is the clear victim of the alleged crimes,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who serves as President of the Commission.

“The shame brought to the Coliseum Commission by the rampant criminal acts of former employees and vendors cannot be overstated,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas added. “The Coliseum Commission is determined to bring all unlawful actors to justice and make them pay every stolen dollar back to the public.”

The Coliseum’s former assistant general manager, Todd DeStefano, is bound by his own plea deal to pay an additional $500,000 in restitution directly to the Coliseum. A judge also sentenced him to six months in jail. The Coliseum Commission has already received $385,000 in restitution from its former general manager, Patrick Lynch, who was accused of taking kickbacks from a janitorial contractor.