- Second District
The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners has unanimously approved moving forward with a $4-billion plan to include a new automated LAX Train that will connect passengers to the airline terminals.
The plan will include a “people mover” train, rental car center, multiple locations for passenger pick-up and drop-off, and a Crenshaw Line train station at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard.
The new plan promises to make airport travel easier, faster, and more convenient for visitors. In addition, the airport modernization program is expected to create 40,000 jobs, remodel terminals and significantly upgrade the passenger experience at LAX.
The program is set to begin the environmental review process in January 2015. Construction is expected to begin in 2017.
“The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners decision to move forward with a $4 billion modernization plan is momentous,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who as a member of the Metro Board, played a major role in pushing for a people mover and an extension of the Crenshaw line. “Los Angeles is now one step closer to making travel more efficient and making our airport truly world class.”
Holding up signs stating that Black Lives Matter, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas joined more than 50 African American men dressed in suits and ties in a silent vigil to acknowledge the recent deaths of unarmed black men.
Lawyers, elected officials, executives and others stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, showing their support for the protests occurring across the country. Kerman Maddox, managing partner at Dakota Communications, organized the vigil with the hope to continue a national conversation about police brutality and actions.
Demonstrations have sprung throughout the nation in the wake of two grand juries declining to indict white police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men — Eric Garner in New York City and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The killing of young men, particularly young men of color, must end, said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.
“In light of the issues manifesting throughout the nation – in Ferguson, in Staten Island, as well as our very own Los Angeles County,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “We gather, in an act of solidarity, demanding an end to police violence and a change in the social justice system.”
While construction along the Crenshaw corridor has created challenging circumstances for some small business owners, many also are taking advantage of the opportunities the new Crenshaw-to-LAX rail line will bring. More than 40 businesses currently impacted by the construction learned this week how to tap into novel programs that will support and promote them during this challenging time.
“Since construction began on the Crenshaw/LAX Line, local businesses and patrons have been asked to endure a lot,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who advocated for the programs and coordinated the gathering, said to the group assembled at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall Community Room. “These programs will be critical elements to help businesses thrive. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to make sure that the Crenshaw Line construction moves forward safely and in a productive manner that puts community first.”
The programs include the Eat Shop Play Crenshaw marketing and publicity campaign, which encourages community members to “pledge” to eat, shop and play locally and provides routine raffles for people who can demonstrate they have done so on the corridor. Metro will also use social media to encourage people to tell their stories about the Corridor.
Another new program is the Business Solutions Center, which is slated to open December 19, and which will be a dedicated office where business owners can receive advice, technical assistance, case management and resource referral services to address their needs.
One of the key objectives of the Business Solutions Center will be to help businesses apply for the grants that will be made available through an innovative new program, the Business Interruption Fund. In October, the Metro Board unanimously agreed to establish a $10 million annual fund for businesses impacted by construction of the various lines under construction.
“It is an extreme priority to make sure these small businesses can make it through the construction process,” said Mark Robertson, Jr., chief executive of Pacific Coast Regional Small Business Development Corporation, which is helping businesses access the fund. “Everybody understands that the construction of this rail line ultimately means success for the businesses adjacent to them. The challenge is getting to the point where the line is complete and the businesses can reap the benefits.”
In honor of more than 30,000 people killed by guns each year, including the children who were slain at Sandy Hook Elementary two years ago, Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl joined gun violence survivors to promote the first ever “Light L.A. Day.”
Speakers at the event included Sarah Wirtz and Rhonda Foster, whose niece and son respectively, were lost to gun violence. Wirtz, whose niece was one of the children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre, told the audience, “You don’t think it can happen to you, until it does.” Foster, whose son was killed at the age of seven, said, “We have lost too many loved ones to gun violence.”
Light LA Day, sponsored by the advocacy groups, Women Against Gun Violence, Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, local Brady Campaign chapters, and the network of gun violence prevention organizations throughout the county, is part of a national remembrance coordinated by the Newtown Foundation in partnership with the Washington National Cathedral and other anti-violence groups.
To help shine a light on the devastating toll that gun violence takes on society, faith organizations and gun violence prevention groups held vigils in each of the 50 states. According to the Newtown Action Alliance, there have been 91 school shootings nationwide since the tragic assault in Newtown.
“Enough is enough,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “For the sake of our children, it is time to take a stand and work toward a more peaceful and better future for all.”
After two years of debate, discussion and impassioned testimony from residents, reform advocates and former jail inmates, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to establish a citizen’s oversight commission for the Sheriff’s Department. Broadly framed, the purpose of the commission will be to ensure heightened public scrutiny of the department. The commission, first proposed by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and then Supervisor Gloria Molina, became a reality under the newly constituted board. Supervisor Hilda Solis co-authored the motion with Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.
Allegations of excessive force, significant litigation costs and a moral imperative to ensure constitutional policing in the jails and communities illustrate the need for an oversight entity, the majority of Supervisors agreed.
Although he was not present at the board meeting, newly sworn in Sheriff Jim McDonnell has stated his strong support for such a commission, promising to work closely with the commission and forge a positive working relationship with the panel.
With the nation highly shaken by the publicized shooting deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, the creation of an oversight panel – long a best practice in municipalities across the country – gained new urgency. “Ferguson” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said, has become a byword for a host of issues that Los Angeles County must proactively seek to avoid.
“The sheriff’s department has long required a level of scrutiny that has been missing. The time has come,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “New department leadership has been elected with a mandate for reform that embraces accountability and transparency and recognizes that an independent advisory oversight commission is an important tool in restoring public confidence.”
“For more than two years, the county’s citizens have called for creation of a citizen’s oversight commission,” said Supervisor Solis. “Across this county, the public trust in the people charged with keeping us safe has fallen to a new low. Under the new leadership we have a chance to restore the trust given the county”.
Supervisor Solis added that the creation of an oversight commission is a fiscally prudent step, one that ultimately will result in better policing, fewer lawsuits and therefore more resources to be used on pressing policy matters.
The vote for the Citizen’s Commission, calls for the creation of a working group that includes the Sheriff, the Inspector General and one appointee of each Supervisor, that will come up with recommendations on the oversight commission’s mission, authority, size, structure, relationship to the Office of the Sheriff and to the Office of the Inspector General.
“An advisory citizen’s commission would ensure that all segments of our community feel a greater investment in our Sheriff’s Department and that they are able to work with us in ensure that the LASD’s policing is effective, fair and constitutional,” noted Sheriff McDonnell in a letter of support.
Each supervisor will appoint a commissioner to the panel. In addition, it calls for a funding and staffing plan for the commission and for a formal agreement between the Sheriff’s Department, the Office of the Inspector General and the board.
Supervisor Kuehl also noted that a commission would increase public trust, and protect both sworn officers and inmates, adding: “It’s certainly been shown to be effective in other counties. It’s also a smart policy. We need a single centralized body to cut through this confusion and monitor the department.”
More than 50 speakers testified before the Board on the issue, the overwhelming majority in support of the commission. Speakers included Rabbi Jonathan Klein of Clergy & Laity for Economic Unity, Marsha Temple, executive director of the Integrative Recovery Network and Kim McGill, executive director of the Youth Justice Coalition and Patrice Cullors, executive director of the Coalition to End sheriff Violence.