Century Crunch is Coming

Another reminder for all folks planning to be at or near the airport on July 25: Century Boulevard will be closed to permit the demolition of a defunct railroad bridge at the intersection of Century and Aviation Boulevards near the Los Angeles International Airport.

Beginning at 9 p.m., July 25, the bridge will be torn down to make way for a new state-of-the art elevated transit station for the Crenshaw/LAX light-rail line that will connect the nearby Metro Green Line to the Expo Line in 2019. Demolition will continue for the next 57 hours, ending on July 28.

So just as Los Angeles survived “Carmageddon” and then its son, “Jamzilla” with the closure of the 405 Freeway, Angelenos will need to brace for the “Century Crunch.” To be sure, there will be inconvenience during the Century Crush weekend. The Century Bridge supports an old railroad freight track that hasn’t been used in years, but it’s too narrow, old and unsafe to be incorporated into our new light rail system.

Demolition will close a portion of Century Boulevard, a major artery leading into LAX during one of the busiest travel times of the year. But as with Carmageddon, we do have choices and we should make use of them for the sake of the people who must get to this area … and for ourselves.

  • Plan ahead. If you haven’t purchased your airline tickets yet, try to schedule your trip for a different weekend.
  • Allow extra time. If you must travel to the airport, double or triple the amount of time your commute would normally take and base your schedule on real-time travel conditions.
  • Reroute your trip. Take advantage of travel detours that the L.A. Department of Transportation will posted on the LADOT website: trafficinfo.lacity.org. It will be a great source for motorists that weekend.

“We know summer is peak travel season and not a great time to disrupt airport traffic and we’re sorry about that,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, at a recent news conference announcing the upcoming project. “But the demolition work is necessary now so that construction can stay on schedule for the Crenshaw line.”

Again: street closure will begin at 9 p.m. Friday, July 25, and last until 6 a.m. Monday, July 28.

For more information on the bridge demolition visit: http://www.metro.net/projects/crenshaw_corridor/demolition-century-city-bridge-july-25-28/

Click here to download a flyer.



Notice of Date Change

The Sheriff and Inspector General were originally scheduled to present their joint response to Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Molina’s Sheriff’s Department Oversight Commission motion along with public testimony and a board vote on July 22, 2014. However, this item has been moved to *Tuesday, August 5, 2014*. If you are a member of the community and would like to have your voice heard on this important issue, please note the date change and register here.

Treatment vs. Incarceration: $20 Million Proposed for Mental Health Programs

Los Angeles County incarcerates the largest population of mentally ill people of any county in the nation. District Attorney Jackie Lacey, jail reform advocates, fiscal watchdogs, and the supervisors all have voiced concerns about the County’s inhumane and expensive system, which repeatedly cycles mentally ill people in and out of custody.

The supervisors unanimously have acknowledged this circumstance, and in recent months the board has committed to exploring methods of redirecting mentally ill offenders to treatment instead of jail. At present, however, the county has set aside about $3 million.

That’s not enough to make a meaningful effort at diversion. That’s why Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is asking the Board to start to demonstrate its financial commitment by setting aside an amount that is the equivalent of 1% of the $2 billion already set aside for jail construction and renovations.

The results from successful diversion programs across the country are encouraging. Intensive treatment lowers recidivism, resulting both in fewer new victims of crime and lower incarceration costs. In New York City, the Nathaniel Project saw a reported 70% reduction in arrests over a two-year period and Chicago’s Thresholds program resulted in an 89% reduction in arrests, an 86% reduction in jail time, and a 76% reduction in hospitalization for program participants.

“It is time to stop talking about treating mentally ill people with dignity; it’s time to stop talking about taking a fiscally responsible approach to managing our jail population, it’s time to act,” the supervisor said.

The Supervisor’s proposal, which will return to the Board for a vote in coming days, parallels findings outlined to the Board in a presentation by the district attorney. Lacey, who hosted a summit of 60 law enforcement leaders, mental health workers and community advocates last spring, identified six preliminary goals for the county. They are:

1. Training for all criminal justice professionals.

2. Expanding the capacity for behavioral health treatment for mentally ill offenders.

3. Implementing a data study that examines the types of services needed, the capacity needed for those services and the population(s) most in need of these services.

4. Improving communication/coordination among all system partners to remove silos and implement a shared database.

5. Developing policies and procedures to guide service capacity utilization.

6. Creating crisis alternatives centers/crisis stabilization centers that can be utilized by law enforcement, consumers and families of consumers.

7. Expanding the availability of housing for mentally ill offenders.

Embracing and investing in diversion, however, may not be just a matter of choice. Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice warned the county that its quality of care for mentally ill offenders and the high number of inmate suicides in its jails did not meet constitutional standards.

“There’s a moral question at hand in this process,” Lacey said. Are we punishing people for simply being sick. Public safety should have a priority, but justice should always come first.”

Dodgers Dreamfield Dedicated at Ted Watkins Park

For many children, the baseball diamond is a place to learn sportsmanship, strategy and self-confidence. And this summer, a freshly renovated baseball field has opened in Watts.

“Beautiful baseball diamonds like these create an inspiring platform for our young players to learn about teamwork,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The Dodgers Dreamfield at Ted Watkins Park, a 28-acre park in the heart of South Los Angeles named after the founder of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee in 1995, is the latest of eight fields built with funding from the Dodgers Foundation, LA84 and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Created in 1998, the Dodgers Foundation provides educational, athletic and recreation opportunities for children in the Los Angeles area, with a special emphasis in helping underserved youth. LA84 was endowed with surplus funds from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles to serve children through sports. Ted Watkins Park is the eighth partnership in the second district following the renovations of Jesse Owens, Athens, Lennox, Mona and Campanella park fields. Dreaming in the batter’s box is Roosevelt Park, which Supervisor Ridley-Thomas hopes will be completed by the end of August.

“This wonderful addition to the park will make it possible for youngsters in the area to learn and practice their baseball skills under the tutelage of coaches and other caring adults while having fun,” said Patrick Escobar, LA84 Foundation Vice President of Grants & Programs.

As part of the dreamfield renovations, Ted Watkins Park received $156,000 worth of upgrades including new bases, paint, remote controlled solar powered scoreboards, signage, dugout roofs and fresh green grass. These renovations follow an $8.7M renovation completed in 2011 and an additional $1M renovation completed last year.

“We are grateful for this partnership,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “And we know there will be many more opportunities for us to work together to build more fields of dreams for children and families.”

Watts Student Athlete Becomes Fulbright Scholar

Left to Right: Calynn J. Taylor Moore and her son, Caylin Moore.

Caylin Moore never had it easy: years ago his mother went through a terrible depression after being assaulted, and Caylin, only in grade school, helped nurse her back to health. His father was not there. However, despite her struggles, his mother, Calynn J. Taylor Moore, who raised her three children on her own, set an example for them by going on to earn a law degree. Inspired by her, Moore, too, has set high standards for himself.

At Verbum Dei High School in Watts, he went on to become a star football player while also maintaining a strong grade point average. Today he is majoring in Economics at Marist College, a private liberal arts college on the east bank of the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, New York, and recently he participated in the prestigious 2014 Fulbright Summer Institute in Bristol, England.

Fulbright, one of the world’s largest international education programs, offers scholarships to promote leadership, learning and empathy between nations through educational exchange. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recognized Moore’s academic achievement at Tuesday’s convening.

“It was an amazing experience,” he told the supervisors and audience in the hearing room, where he recited a poem by rapper Tupac Shakur:

Caylin Moore, student athlete and Fulbright Summer Institute participant at Board of Supervisors presentation, July 15, 2014

Did you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature’s law is wrong it
learned to walk without having feet…

After the presentation of a certificate, Caylin recalled his time in England as life altering: It was the first time he ever traveled abroad and lived in a society without guns. He also learned about the slave trade and from oversees, gained perspective on its lasting impacts on the United States and him personally. After college, Moore hopes to engage in public service through improving education — or perhaps become the president of a bank’s foundation.

“I am proud of his accomplishments and recognize his hard work overcoming challenges,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who presented a County scroll to Moore. “In a short amount of time he has accomplished so much and, I am sure, will we hear again from this bright young man as he continues on his path to success.”