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Opportunity Knocks for Future EMT’s

Young Men from Los Angeles County’s Second District Attend an Orientation at Central Baptist Church in Carson

Young Men from Los Angeles County’s Second District Attend an Orientation at Central Baptist Church in Carson

For the first time, a unique pilot program to train underserved young men of color to become Emergency Medical Technicians is on its way to Los Angeles County. The program is a partnership between the Office of Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Workers Education and Resource Center with funding support from the California Endowment.

“This pilot program is a win-win. Our young men of color deserve access to the best opportunities,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas. “And our communities deserve first rate emergency medical technicians.”

On the heels of a successful recent program in Alameda County, 21 young men from Los Angeles County’s Second District and their accountability partners, made up of parents, friends or significant others, participated in the orientation and kickoff at Central Baptist Church in Carson. Representatives from the Los Angeles County Departments of Children and Family Services, Probation, and Fire were on hand to provide words of wisdom and to participate in the launch of the program.

The five month intensive program will include technical skill development, life skill building and culminate in EMT certification. The young men selected through a rigorous application process will earn a training stipend of $1,200 per month.

This group is the first of three groups that will participate in the pilot program in Los Angeles County’s Second District over the next two years.

Role of Citizens in Governance


The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a set of recommendations to enhance the efficiency and accountability of Citizen Advisory Boards.

“Citizen Advisory Boards encourage public participation in the governance of Los Angeles County, providing us with advice and recommendations about policies and services,” Board Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “These recommendations will ensure the voice of the people is heard.”

Role of Citizens in Governance Slides

Honorary USC Degree for Ridley-Thomas

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The University of Southern California awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters to Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas at its 134th Commencement, citing his contributions to the community.

“It is my hope and commitment that I may continue to serve the public, especially the underserved in our society who are homeless, jobless and lack access to basic medical care, which I believe is a right and not a privilege,” said Board Chairman Ridley-Thomas, who received his Ph.D. in Social Ethics from USC in 1989, focusing on Social Criticism and Social Change.

USC also awarded honorary degrees to comedian Will Ferrell, who delivered the commencement address. Ferrell earned his undergraduate degree in Sports Information from USC in 1990. Also recognized were Oscar winner Dame Helen Mirren, social work visionary Suzanne Dworak-Peck, orthopaedic spinal surgeon and inventor Gary Michelson, and David Ho, a leading researcher in the fight against AIDS.


USC President C.L. Max Nikias and Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

USC President C.L. Max Nikias and Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

Good morning, and welcome to the 134th Annual Commencement of the University of Southern California! 

Today, we confer more than 15,000 degrees at the undergraduate level, at the graduate and doctoral level, and at the professional level. Today, we confer degrees on graduates from all 50 states and from more than 100 nations, representing hundreds of fields and specialties. We confer them on women and men from every walk of life.

Today, we also confer honorary degrees on a number of international icons in the arts and humanities; in public service and philanthropy; and in medical and scientific innovation.


Over his long and distinguished career as a state and local legislator, Mark Ridley-Thomas has been a steadfast champion of Los Angeles. He has tirelessly worked to extend vital services to more citizens, and to increase civic engagement in our city. In founding the influential Empowerment Congress more than 25 years ago, he created a powerful model for political expression.

An esteemed Trojan alumnus, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas strengthens our communities by shaping inclusive legislation that touches the lives of millions while helping to fulfill the lofty promise of a democratic society.

For his exceptional legislative efforts, his determined leadership, and his visionary philosophy of community engagement, the University of Southern California is proud to honor Mark Ridley-Thomas with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa.


By the authority vested in me by the USC Board of Trustees, I hereby confer upon Mark Ridley-Thomas the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa. Please accept our warmest congratulations.

Measure H Funding Consensus

With Measure H about to pay dividends, a 50-member planning group reached consensus on funding and strategy recommendations to put before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors as it prepares to mount one of the nation’s largest initiatives to eradicate homelessness.

At the conclusion of the planning group’s final meeting, County Homeless Initiative director Phil Ansell said, “Nothing short of a consensus-based stakeholder process of this nature would do justice to this historic moment in our effort to combat homelessness.”

Composed of County government staff, as well as formerly homeless individuals, technical experts, nonprofit service providers, and leaders of the faith, business and philanthropic communities, the planning group convened five meetings – all open to the public – to develop funding recommendations for the first three years of Measure H revenue, totaling about $1 billion.

It also endorsed 21 strategies, with an emphasis on ramping up resources for “core strategies,” which include:

  • augmented outreach and engagement to reach the homeless on every street corner
  • providing permanent housing with healthcare and other services
  • rapid rehousing for the newly homeless
  • enhancing the emergency shelter system, including for those exiting jails and hospitals
  • strengthening the network of community nonprofits already serving homeless single adults, families and youth

The recommendations will be presented to the Board on June 13.

Reba Stevens, a member of the planning group who spent 21 years living on the streets, said, “Now that we’re here and at the final stage, I’m truly, truly, hopeful. I’m excited because there are such opportunities and possibilities – they’re endless! I know that we’re going to do this, that we’re actually going to position ourselves to end homelessness.”

“It’s pretty inspiring,” added Janice Martin, another member of the planning group and an ecumenical liaison for Brothers and Sisters in Communications, which provides outreach to faith-based institutions. She added that while faith-based institutions are “already first responders” to the homeless by providing counseling and charitable services, they can be mobilized to take on an even greater role under the Homeless Initiative.

Beth Steckler, deputy director of the nonprofit Move LA, expressed appreciation for the diversity of the planning group’s members and the openness of its meetings. “I think it’s extraordinary for the County to run a transparent process to bring stakeholders together, and invite the public to come and participate,” she said. “I think it shows a great deal of political maturity.”

Measure H is a 1/4-cent County sales tax approved by nearly 70 percent of voters on March 7, and projected to raise about $355 million annually for 10 years. It is expected to help 45,000 families and individuals escape homelessness within the next five years, and to prevent homelessness for 30,000 others.

To ensure accountability, the County Auditor Controller will have an independent auditor regularly report on Measure H spending, and a Citizen’s Oversight Advisory Board will publish a complete accounting of all allocations and submit periodic evaluations. The County will continue to release quarterly progress reports in connection with the Homeless Initiative strategies. Finally, the nonprofits that implement the strategies will be held to specific outcomes and standards, tracked and monitored by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the County CEO and County Department of Health Services, and other relevant County departments.

Candlelight Vigil
25 Years After Civil Unrest

About 300 people joined Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas in marking the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Civil Unrest in Los Angeles with a teach-in and a candlelight vigil.

Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

“We come together to stand in solidarity, not to simply remember the events of 1992 but also to reflect on lessons learned after 25 years of recovery, revitalization and resilience,” Board Chair Ridley-Thomas said.

At the teach-in, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker of “OJ:  Made in America,”  Ezra Edelman, looked back on the turmoil. “Reliving, discussing and absorbing our history is the only way to move forward,” he said.

Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

Ezra Edelman. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

Prof. Paul Ong, director of the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, unveiled a study entitled “1992 Revisited,” which tracked socioeconomic changes between the time of the civil unrest and the present.

“Without the heroic efforts of community organizers and elected officials, conditions would be far worse; nonetheless, the unfortunate reality as evident in the empirical facts is that much more must be done to address the continued economic marginalization of South Los Angeles,” he said. “This will require a comprehensive, inclusive and coordinated effort, one that cuts across silos and institutional layers, and guided by a common vision anchored in a commitment to social justice.”

Paul Ong, Maria Elena Durazo, Marc Brown, Peter Hong and Rep. Karen Bass. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

Paul Ong, Maria Elena Durazo, Marc Brown, Peter Hong and Rep. Karen Bass. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

“We have come a long way in building local organizations to address issues of education, environmental justice, and other local issues,” Unite Here General Vice President Maria Elena Durazo said. “Unfortunately, the poverty level has grown in most of the communities that were impacted by the unrest. We have to fight for jobs that truly lift people out of poverty – and we have to give equal access to those good jobs to everyone in the community.”

US Rep. Karen Bass and CalState LA Director of Strategic Initiatives Peter Hong also spoke at the teach-in, hosted by KABC-7 anchor Marc Brown at the auditorium of the historic Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building. Mayor Eric Garcetti also addressed participants.

Afterwards, teach-in attendees and members of the community went across the street for a candlelight vigil. Each carried a flame that illuminated the corner of Western and Adams, where a gas station was razed during the civil unrest.

Photo by Bryan Chan/Board of Supervisors

Photo by Bryan Chan/Board of Supervisors