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Supervisor Ridley-Thomas receives Crystal Service Award

A rooftop downtown dance floor drew hours of dancing under the stars in celebration of the work of Crystal Stairs. Located in Ladera Heights, Crystal Stairs, Inc. is one of the largest nonprofit child care and child development agencies in California. Each year, the organization provides child care, advocacy, and other critical services to 30,000 children and low-income families. Founded in 1980, the agency serves communities of Central and South Los Angeles as well as the cities of Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood and Lawndale.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was honored with the Crystal Service Award, given to individuals who have tirelessly demonstrated their efforts in helping to improve the lives of young children and families. “Your award affirms our commitment to strengthening communities by strengthening our families and providing quality education to our children,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The Community Gem Award was given to Michael and Catherine Meyer. In the legal community, Michael Meyer and Catherine Meyer are sought-out experts in the field. Michael Meyer is the Managing Partner of the Los Angeles Area Offices for DLA Piper and he is considered one of the country’s leading authorities on major lease transactions and renewal rights. As Counsel with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, after having been a partner with the firm for 20 years, Catherine Meyer is internationally renowned on the issues of privacy and data security breach situations.

Linda Sullivan of Southern California Edison was also awarded the Corporate Jewel Award. Edison International, through its subsidiaries, is a generator and distributor of electric power and an investor in infrastructure and energy assets, including renewable energy. Southern California Edison is one of the largest electric utilities in California, serving more than 14 million people in a 50,000 square-mile area of central, coastal and Southern California – a service territory includes more than 180 cities.

“I am humbled to be recognized alongside honorees with a track record of advocating for children and families every day.” Studies show that the absence of quality child care negatively impacts an individual’s education for life. Crystal Stairs has been providing access to quality care for 30 years.  Supervisor Ridley-Thomas concluded, “Thank you for all you continue to do for our families and the little ones who will soon be our own leaders and caregivers.”

A new wellness center and community garden come to Fremont High School

A new community garden and Wellness Center are coming to Fremont High School thanks to a partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District, the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust (LANLT) and the University Muslim Medical Association (UMMA) Community Clinic, two community-based non-profits. The community garden and Wellness Center, which will be located on the corner of Avalon Boulevard and 79th Street, will be the first in its area to serve both students and residents in the surrounding community.

Aside from being a place for residents and students to gather their harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables, this one and a half acre project includes a community health center that will provide educational programming, job training opportunities, and direct clinical care to the students and community members in South Los Angeles.

“We’re so delighted to see this long planned project come to life,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “This wellness center and community garden will provide Fremont High’s 3,200 students and the surrounding community with accessible high quality healthcare in addition to providing sorely needed open space.”

The project is scheduled for completion in November of 2012.

The Neighborhood Land Trust

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust (NTL) is the leading non-profit organization working to grow healthier communities through urban parks and gardens in Los Angeles City and County. Founded in 2002, NLT has played an important role in the creation, renovation and opening of nine parks and gardens, seven of which it currently manages and programs. The Neighborhood Land Trust mission is to grow healthier, safer and stronger communities by creating small, accessible urban parks and gardens that help remedy the critical lack of green and recreational spaces in greater Los Angeles’ underserved neighborhoods and to ensure participation and collaboration among low-income residents throughout the process of envisioning, building and managing the parks and gardens created. To learn more about the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, please visit: http://lanlt.org/

University Muslim Medical Association

The mission of the University Muslim Medical Association (UMMA) is to promote the well-being of the underserved by providing access to high quality healthcare for all, regardless of ability to pay. UMMA envisions itself as part of a larger network of institutions addressing the health and wellbeing of the underserved and indigent, mindful of the cultural, spiritual, social and economic realities that impinge upon them and the traditional barriers to accessing care. UMMA strives to: cultivate and expand a robust network of collaborative relationships with individuals, organizations and institutions among the community at large and pursue opportunities for interaction and understanding between Muslim Americans and people of all other cultural, economic and religious backgrounds. To learn more about the University Muslim Medical Association, please visit:  http://www.ummaclinic.org/the-community/who-we-are

Audit shows need to disband Coliseum Commission

Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel today issued an audit of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission.

The audit found numerous examples of questionable practices, including $870,000 in payments to overseas companies for events that never took place and nearly $1 million in untracked cash payments to technical workers.

The Controller also noted Commissioners “have not assured that adequate controls were in place and allowed a Tone-at-the-Top unsuitable for a government entity.” The audit concluded Commissioners delegated substantial control to the General Manager, requiring only “superficial reporting” in return.

The audit recommends the Coliseum Commission ensure timely internal audits and work with the General Manager to improve communications so Commissioners may be “fully informed” to “ensure its long term fiscal health and appropriate condition of its facilities.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, a member of the Coliseum Commission, said of the audit:

“The City Controller’s audit captures many of the major financial missteps that have put the Coliseum in its current predicament. Her recommendations for correcting past mismanagement, however, stop short of what is truly required: the Coliseum needs an entirely new governance and management model.

The Commission structure established in 1923, when Los Angeles County’s population was less than one-tenth its current size.

A nine-member commission composed of three representatives each from the city, county and state made sense when the entire state of California had a population roughly equal to Orange County today.

Now, the tripartite structure too often pits competing interests against common ones. The result has been the indecision and excessive compromise endemic to management by committee.

It’s unrealistic to expect such a body to provide the kind of hands-on oversight required at the Coliseum today. Part-time supervision by elected officials is an out-dated model.

It’s time to dissolve the Coliseum Commission and replace it with stewardship by one of the current public partners – the city, state or county. Los Angeles County has a strong track record in managing the Hollywood Bowl and the County’s Natural History Museum in Exposition Park. The county might very well have the experience and financial stability to take custody of the Coliseum.”

Constructing a new future

On the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, hosted an appreciation luncheon at the construction site of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital for the men and women who are building the new 194,000-square-foot hospital — a hands on dedication to keeping the legendary civil right’s leader’s dream of equal opportunity alive.

“We recognize you for all the work you do each day to build a new hospital that is built on time and on budget,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, before a crowd of more than 400 construction workers. “We are delighted to honor your contributions to this important project.

“Today we celebrate the progress being made and look forward to an extraordinary future,” he continued.

From pipefitters to electricians, workers of all trades took off their hard-hats for an hour to chat with colleagues, eat grilled hotdogs, hamburgers, and apple pie prepared by Earlez Grille, and hear gratitude expressed by representatives from the County of Los Angeles and the MLK Healthcare Corporation, board of directors.

“You are changing the lives of those who live in this community,” said Chief Executive Officer William T. “Bill” Fujioka. “Thank you for what you do.”

The same sentiment of was shared by Healthcare Corporation board Chairman Manny Abascal , who reiterated that the workers are making a profound investment into the community and building the foundation for a quality facility.

Of particular note throughout the day was the significant presence of workers who also are residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. Several said that building a hospital in their own community was a source of tremendous pride for them. Their participation, many pointed out, was not by accident. County employment policies enacted two years ago were essential to providing job opportunities for them with regard to the hospital’s construction.

In October 2010, the Board of Supervisors established a local working hiring policy for the MLK Medical Center campus. The policy requires that 30% of the total construction hours be reserved for workers who live within a five – mile radius and/or reside in zip codes experiencing 150% of the County’s average rate of unemployment. The investments on the campus are projected to create nearly 2,100 direct construction jobs for the community. To date, the MLK Inpatient Tower project has succeeded in hiring 38% of its employees from within a five mile radius and 31% of its employees from those zip codes experiencing higher rates of unemployment. When the MLK Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center begins construction, it will be governed by an unprecedented project labor agreement to ensure compliance with the local hiring policy.

The new Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital

Forty years after the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Hospital initially opened its doors the MLK Medical Center is experiencing a renaissance. A new state-of-the-art , independently governed hospital is being developed to replace the old Los Angeles County-run facility. Steady progress is being made in an effort to transform the MLK Medical Center campus into a center of excellence for health care delivery, a medical home for the underserved, urban health promotion, health workforce development, research and teaching, and economic development. The County of Los Angeles has earmarked nearly $400 million in public funds to promote quality health and wellness services on the Watts-Willowbrook campus.

Since the closure of MLK-Harbor Hospital in August 2007, the County has been diligently working to restore inpatient services at the MLK site. In 2009, the County of Los Angeles partnered with the University of California to form a new non-profit corporation with its own independent governing board to open and operate the 120-bed MLK Hospital. This innovative public-private partnership will leverage the County’s resources, the University of California’s medical expertise and the leadership of an independent governing board to deliver high quality services in the new facility. Construction of the inpatient tower is scheduled to be substantially completed in March of 2013.

Supervisors approve conditional use permit for Jet Inn Motor Motel

For more than a decade, residents of the affluent View Park, Windsor Hills and Ladera Heights communities have been at odds with the Jet Inn Motel, asserting the small facility was a source of blight to the area; to that end, they sought to have the building shut down during the summer 2010.

Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved a compromise that allows the 53-year-old business to remain open, as long as it completes significant aesthetic improvements to the property and engages in ongoing discussions with neighbors.

Among improvements required by the permit, the owners must paint the façade, install new carpeting, renovate the lobby and room interiors, and erect new street signage in order to continue operating for another 20 years.

The motel’s swimming pool also will be removed and replaced with new landscaping; damaged security cameras must be fixed within 24 hours, and additional parking spaces and an elevator must be installed in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. All improvements are to be completed within six months.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents the Second District where the motel is located, said approving the permit was an important first step towards revitalizing the Slauson Corridor.

“These improvements to this motel are long overdue and necessary for the Jet Inn to keep pace with the comprehensive strategy underway for the corridor” the Supervisor said.

”More importantly,” he continued, “We’ve laid the foundation for better communication and cooperation with the surrounding community.”

Thirty-year resident and long time advocate for the Windsor Hills-View Park community Sally Hampton said she is looking forward to the motel renovations.

“The Jet Inn has created a significant blight on Slauson for many years, so I am happy to see the county imposing conditions that will improve the property and its operation,” Hampton said.

Hampton, who is also a member of the grassroots organization, the Empowerment Congress, said she would like to see the property become a resource for nearby residents as the entire corridor undergoes a substantial redevelopment.

“Starting east of Fairfax, Slauson is not what one would expect in a community of beautiful homes – some sections are a downright embarrassment,” she said. “Hopefully, this will change in the next few years as Slauson is developed and residents can enjoy shopping and doing business close to home.”

Three task forces convened by the Supervisor and comprised of business owners and residents, are currently devising plans to make Slauson Avenue a greater asset to the surrounding communities, with retail shops and restaurants, instead of merely a transit corridor and throughway.