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How will you be celebrating Earth Day?

The beginning of the modern environmental movement, some say, can be pinpointed to one day: April 22, 1970. That’s when former Washington Sen. Gaylord Nelson called on Americans to observe a national “teach-in” to celebrate grassroots environmental education and remind Americans to tread lightly on the earth. Nelson’s idea appealed to Americans across political parties, economic classes, races and ethnicities, and millions participated in coast-to-coast demonstrations and rallies.

Forty-two years after that first Earth Day, the movement to encourage environmental stewardship has become a worldwide phenomenon. Here in Los Angeles County, residents, community organizations, private businesses and government come together to work on a variety of issues, ranging from neighborhood cleanups and restoring native habitat, to effectively advocating for the expansion of our public transit system along Crenshaw Boulevard in South Los Angeles.

Over the years new challenges have emerged, and land use strategies of the past no longer are suitable to manage our growing population. For example, cars continue to clog our roads, and despite a generation of progress, air quality does not meet acceptable levels. The scarcity of bike lanes and safe sidewalks has made exercising more challenging in many neighborhoods, and weight-related illnesses are on the rise.

Yet the County continues to move forward. In 2012, the Board of Supervisors…

  • Adopted a state-of-the-art Master Bicycle Plan that that provides a road map for expanding the County’s existing 144-mile network with 823 additional miles of new bike lanes over the next 20 years..
  • Officially banned plastic bags at supermarkets, small businesses and convenience stores in unincorporated areas as a strategy to promote the use of reusable bags.
  • Kicked off the Energy Upgrade California campaign, partnering with utility companies to provide thousands of dollars in rebates to property owners for energy efficient retrofits.

Furthermore, each of the Supervisors has worked to preserve the County’s natural resources. Supervisor Gloria Molina has led the effort to ban the use of Styrofoam in County facilities, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has helped preserve hundreds of acres of land in the Santa Monica Mountains, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich has drastically expanded the number of horse trails in the northern communities of the County, Supervisor Don Knabe has granted funding to 24 cities to enhance recreation and open space projects, and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has launched the ambitious Park to Playa project, which will create the a 13-mile regional pedestrian trail and bike path from the Baldwin Hills to the Santa Monica Bay.

Below is an abbreviated list of events celebrating Earth Day throughout the month of April. Please vote on your favorite below to let us know how you will be marking Earth Day 2012.

April 14
Eat Local and Celebrate the Ground Breaking for the Lennox Community Garden.
On April 14th, join the non-profit From Lot to Spot, the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and other members of the Lennox Community from 11am – 2pm to celebrate the opening of the first community garden on Lennox at 112th Street and Inglewood Ave.

Create a Recycled Art Project at the Earth Day South LA Festival.
Join Community Services Unlimited and the Normandie Avenue Elementary School on Saturday, April 14, 2012
from 11am to 4pm and participate in service projects for all ages, cooking demos and workshops including gardening with natives, recycled art and yoga.

April 19
Get informed at the Labor, Social, and Environmental Justice Fair at California State University Dominguez Hills.
Join The Labor Studies Club and the Labor Studies Department of California State University Dominguez Hills on April 19, 2012 from 11:00AM — 4:00PM at the Loker Student Union and network with over 50 social and environmental justice organizations. For more information visit http://cah.csudh.edu/labor/events.htm.

April 22
Get Dirty Restoring Habitat at Kenneth Hahn Park.
Join the County Parks and Recreation Department, Generation Water, Mujeres de la Tierra and other community stakeholders on April 22nd from 9am – 1pm and help replace exotic pests with native plants. All ages and levels of expertise are welcome. For more info click here.

April 28/29
Ride the new Exposition Line.
Take advantage of a free ride on April 28th and 29th along the new Exposition Transit Line. Metro will be celebrating their new public transit service that runs from Downtown at the 7th and Metro Station to La Cienega Boulevard. For more info, visit metro.net/expo.

Learn how to earn $8,000 for making energy efficiency upgrades to your home!
Visit www.energyupgradeca.org. or join experts from Energy Upgrade California at a series of workshops to get a step-by-step tutorial on the program, as well as receive tips from residents who have undergone the process themselves. For more information about a workshop, click here. While you are at it, visit the LA County Solar Map at www.solarmap.lacounty.gov to check out your homes’ solar potential.

Women’s health care services available at Martin Luther King Jr. Multi-Ambulatory Care Center

Did you know that a wide range of quality women’s health services are available at Martin Luther King Jr. Multi-Ambulatory Care Center (MLK-MACC)? The Women’s Health Clinic is staffed by highly trained physicians and mid-level practitioners who provide both preventive and therapeutic obstetrics and gynecology services. Preventive services include the following: well woman check ups, pap smear testing, bone density screening, vaccinations, mammograms, family planning services, nutritional counseling, genetic counseling, and access to social services.

Therapeutic services include treatment of both high and low risk pregnancies with support from the perinatal diagnostic center. MLK-MACC medical staff perform amniocentesis, genetic counseling, fetal surveillance ultrasonography, and treatment of expectant mothers with chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Gynecologic services are extensive and include routine gynecology, gynecology-oncology and urology-gynecologic services.

The MLK-MACC medical staff also performs outpatient surgery on women requiring surgical intervention for their gynecologic issues. In some instances, patients are treated in the Martin Luther King Jr. Ambulatory Surgery Center located on the MLK-MACC campus and return home the same day.

MLK-MACC is committed to providing quality healthcare services to women throughout South Los Angeles and surrounding communities. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8:00am to 4:30 pm. To schedule an appointment, call (310) 668 – 5011.

Metro staff directed to source revenue streams for underfunded transit projects

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board (Metro) is seeking innovative ways to finance underfunded transit projects in Los Angeles County. In a motion sponsored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the 13-member Metro board agreed to launch a world-wide search to identify best financing practices used by transit agencies around the globe. Metro staff will now begin to look for ways to raise additional funds to finance approved Metro projects such as a station stop in Leimert Park Village. The Supervisor’s motion, which passed on consent, is based on the “value capture” concept, whereby a portion of the financial benefits gained by property owners near transit projects is returned to local transit agencies and used to offset the costs of infrastructure development.

Commercial, retail, and industrial property owners near public transit projects often acquire long-term benefits, including greater tenant demand, higher rental rates and higher property value, despite the short term inconvenience and disruption associated with construction.

As part of the motion, Metro staff will report to the board in June with a written document that identifies practices for value capture in transit agencies around the world; the estimated value to property owners near existing Measure R-financed projects, a list of value capture options, and current transit projects that could financially benefit from such programs.

[pullquote_left] “Leimert Park would be a top contender for value capture funds.” [/pullquote_left]“The ability to capture a portion of the enhanced value associated with these public transportation investments has the potential to secure funding for infrastructure projects currently experiencing financing shortfalls,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “Leimert Park would be a top contender for value capture funds.”  The Supervisor continued, “I remain committed to secure funding for a Leimert Park Station and believe this avenue has great potential to fund the station. It is my hope that the Metro staff will reveal funding sources that will transform this and other important but underfunded transit projects into a reality.”

Health summit combats grim nutritional habits

Statistics from the County Department of Public Health paint a grim picture of nutritional habits in the Second District. Adults in the Second District eat fewer fruits and vegetables than adults elsewhere in the County. The Second District also has the highest number of children who are overweight by the time they reach the fifth, seventh and ninth grades, with more than half of all children drinking at least one soda a day.

Since taking office, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has made it a priority to empower County residents and the 100,000 persons the County employs to make healthier nutrition choices. Under his leadership, the County created healthy options in vending machines and ensures all County food procurement and concession contracts promote healthy nutrition. Many of these initiatives also involve creative partnerships with private and public agencies.

In early March, the Supervisor convened mayors, city councilmembers, city managers, and directors of parks from around the district for a health leadership summit. The goal was to help municipalities share their best practices on ways to improve the community’s health. City leaders heard from local experts about policy options that promote physical activity and increase access to healthy foods. Councilwoman Marlen Garcia, from the City of Baldwin Park, spoke about her city’s successful efforts to create safe places to exercise. Lastly, the Supervisor encouraged the leaders to continue to think creatively about promoting nutrition.

[pullquote_right] “Together, we can improve the health and wellness of our community.” [/pullquote_right]Ridley-Thomas’ message was clear. “We need to make obesity prevention and health promotion a priority for the residents of the Second District. Together, we can improve the health and wellness of our community.”

To view the agenda and presentations, please click on the links below:
Second District
California Center for Public Health Advocacy Presentation
City of Baldwin Park Presentation
Kaiser Permanente Presentation
Department of Public Health Presentation

Click here for Second District Health Accomplishments for the Third Year.
Click here for Pictures of the Health Summit.

Statement on arrest of former coliseum executives

In the wake of the arrests of two former L.A. Coliseum executives and a rave producer, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas reiterated his call for the dissolution of the commission.

“This is deeply troubling — the whole episode,” said Ridley-Thomas, who is also a commissioner.

[pullquote_right] “This is deeply troubling — the whole episode,” said Ridley-Thomas, who is also a commissioner.[/pullquote_right]Investigators from the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office arrested two former Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum executives Thursday, Patrick Lynch and Todd DeStefano, as well as Reza Gerami, the owner of the rave promotion company, Go Ventures. For the past two years, Lynch, the former general manager and DeStefano, the former events manager at the Coliseum, have been under investigation by various local, state, and federal authorities with regard to financial disclosures and management of the Coliseum. The nature of the charges was not disclosed, but the arrests of all three men were confirmed by Jane Robinson, spokeswoman for District Attorney Steve Cooley.

“As Coliseum commissioners, our duty is to fix the structural flaws that enable such disarray,” the Supervisor said. “It’s time to replace the Coliseum Commission with a management structure that will strengthen –not obscure– accountability.”

The managment of the Coliseum has been the target of public scrutiny as a result of questionable accounting practices exercised by the former Coliseum executives. The shake-up has resulted in several resignations and changes in leadership and even a proposal from the Univeristy of Southern California, the venue’s primary tenant, to take greater management control over the facility.