Environment, Parks, Libraries

Statement on the Passing of Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison in 2008. She was the first African-American woman to win the Nobel in Literature. Damon Winter/The New York Times

“Today we lost a literary giant, cultural icon, and hero to so many. Toni Morrison, whose literary career started by carving out a little time in the evenings to write after her two sons went to sleep, refused to be defined by establishment. And in life and in prose this worldview shone incandescently bright.  She wrote her books from a vital, underrepresented perspective that placed African Americans – particularly women – at the heart of her writing at a time when they were largely relegated to the margins both in literature and in life. She was the right voice during a difficult time that amplified our collective desires; that understood the way language could operate as an uplifting force; that as she wrote in Beloved said “you are your best thing”; and that claimed a space for us all whether we thought we needed it or not. I will greatly miss Ms. Morrison and send my condolences to the Morrison family, but I know today as we mourn her loss, in so many ways in so many hearts and minds and spirits her ethos will continue to live on.”

The Impact of African Americans in California

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas provides introductory remarks at the Anniversary of CalPRI. Photo by Leroy Hamilton

Remarks by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on the One-year Anniversary of the CA Policy & Research Initiative (CalPRI)

Participants at the CalPRI. Photo by Leroy Hamilton

“It’s a privilege to be here with you all today to recognize and appreciate the impact of African Americans in the state of California. As with the country at-large, one cannot truly understand this state without understanding the impact and contributions that African Americans have made.

“From Pio Pico, in 1832, California’s last governor under Mexican rule, who was of mixed Spanish, Native American, and African ancestry… To the “Tall Man,” Mayor Tom Bradley, who is missed and significantly and appreciably improved the City of Los Angeles. As the years have shown us – and what was once said during the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – “the dignity of man and the destiny of democracy” are not inevitable.

Shakari Byerly, Principal Researcher at EVITARUS, shares data. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

“It takes doing the work. And that work is constant and persistent advocacy. This is the mighty tool we have for advancing the cause of justice under law; for ensuring both fairness and rigor in all of our civic activities; and for securing the basic promise of equality that was codified in our founding documents.

“I am proud of CalPRI for carrying this mantle on behalf of our community and serving as the catalyst to translate ideas and policy into action. For providing the academic rigor and mobilizing expertise to influence the policy-making process. For pushing for innovative change and building networks throughout the state to support creative, pragmatic and actionable policy solutions on tangible issues for our community. Your work is impressive. It is appreciated. And I look forward to what this coming year brings.”

California Policy & Research Initiative booklet. Photo by Leroy Hamilton

LA County Partners with Sports Legends to Build World-Class Athletic and Academic Complex for Underserved Youth in South LA

(Left to Right) Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Doug Kimmelman, Tiger Woods, and Chris Evert

Teaming up with some of the biggest names in sports, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved building the Carol Kimmelman Athletic and Academic Campus, envisioned as one of the largest sports and education complexes for underserved youth and families in the South Bay, South LA, and surrounding communities.

The Kimmelman Campus will be constructed on approximately 80 acres of County-owned real estate currently occupied by the underperforming Victoria Golf Course in Carson. It will include 52 tennis courts, five soccer and multi-purpose fields, and an approximately 25,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art learning center with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Groundbreaking is scheduled this winter.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) Foundation, the LA Galaxy Foundation, and the TGR Foundation – founded by golf legend Tiger Woods and his late father, Earl Woods – will offer programs at the Kimmelman Campus at little or no cost to underserved local youth and families.

“With the Kimmelman Campus, our youth will have an amazing opportunity to unlock both their academic and athletic potential, and to learn about perseverance, teamwork, fair play, and other valuable life lessons both on and off the court,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “I am thrilled to work with Doug Kimmelman of the Kimmelman Foundation, Tiger Woods of the TGR Foundation, Chris Evert of the USTA Foundation, and others on this incredible public-private partnership.”

“Thanks to Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ leadership, we are a giant step closer to bringing a world-class athletic and academic campus to Los Angeles,” Tiger Woods said. “TGR Foundation is excited to be part of the Carol Kimmelman Athletic and Academic Campus, where we can continue to spread our mission of empowering students to pursue their passions through education.”

“This is the most significant undertaking by the USTA Foundation on the West Coast supporting our mission of combining tennis and education together to change lives,” said Chris Evert, the 18-time Grand Slam singles champion who chairs the USTA Foundation’s Board of Directors. “By making high-quality tennis and educational opportunities available to all local children, regardless of income, this campus will provide a transformative experience for thousands of young people that inspires them to succeed both on and off the court.”

The project is being built in honor of the late Carol Kimmelman, a member of the 1983 national champion USC women’s tennis team and former elementary school teacher in South L.A. who believed fervently in the power of tennis and other sports to transform the lives of young people from all backgrounds. When she succumbed to cancer in 2017, her husband and four children vowed to carry on her mission to make sports and education more equitable.

Doug Kimmelman, her husband and President of the Kimmelman Family Foundation, said, “Carol was passionate about the potential for children to learn important life lessons both in the classroom and on the tennis court or sports field. This exceptional, cutting-edge complex will be a safe place for young people throughout the region to experience these lessons firsthand, helping them achieve their full potential and opening doors throughout their lives.”

The USTA Foundation foresees establishing the West Coast hub of the National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) program at the Kimmelman Campus. NJTL offers tennis programs, youth services and college scholarships to more than 200,000 underserved youth around the country each year.

The USTA Southern California Tennis Association (SCTA) also intends to move their headquarters to the campus. Meanwhile, USTA’s Player Development division, which works to develop world-class American players, expects to make the campus its West Coast center of operations.

Dynamic tennis programming for children of all ages and abilities will be offered by both the SCTA and the USTA Foundation’s NJTL program on tennis courts spanning 29 acres, allowing more students throughout Los Angeles to grow and learn life lessons through the sport.

On the academic side, TGR Foundation will oversee the Kimmelman Campus’ expansive 25,000 square foot learning center, which will be equipped with high-tech labs, classrooms, and interactive stations that encourage innovative and hands-on STEM learning.

The project will also include two basketball courts; a sprint track; and training turf to promote active and healthy lifestyles for the entire community.

Access to Safe and Affordable Water Statewide

Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas
On a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund for California

“Access to clean water is a human right, and I applaud Governor Gavin Newsom and the State Legislature for acknowledging this and passing SB 200, which creates a pathway for aiding vulnerable communities across California.

“SB 200 will enable the state to identify water systems that fail, or are in danger of failing, and to provide resources to aid in rehabilitating those water systems and ensuring their customers have an adequate supply of potable water.

“It’s not just rural communities that are impacted by these public health crises. Just last year, Los Angeles County had to step in and tap its Public Works Department to take over the troubled Sativa Water District. We are now implementing a strategy – including an anticipated investment of approximately $8 million – to provide clean, clear and safe water to its 6,800 customers in Compton and Willowbrook for the long term.

“We look forward to partnering with the State to identify ways for SB 200 to support this mission and to defray the significant costs associated with this critical work.”

LA County to Begin Upgrades to Sativa’s Antiquated Water System

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas joins state lawmakers at Sativa headquarters. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

After decades of neglect by its previous operator, the water system serving some 6,800 residents of Compton and Willowbrook will receive a deep cleaning and emergency tie-in to a neighboring water district.

The work will be carried out over the summer by the Sativa Water System’s current administrator, Los Angeles County Public Works, as part of the County’s multipronged effort to overhaul the agency’s water infrastructure and financial management.

“Having access to clean and clear water is a basic human right, and one that we are committed to providing Sativa’s customers,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who pushed for state officials to appoint Public Works as Sativa’s interim administrator in October after decades of mismanagement by the water district’s previous leadership caused episodes of brown water flowing from taps. “No one said this would be easy. But we are committed to course-correcting and making sure Sativa customers are in good hands for the long-term.”

Since then, County officials have been working to combat occasional spikes in brown water that are the result of poorly-maintained water infrastructure, while also triaging the district’s most urgent administrative and infrastructure needs. Earlier this year, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Hahn to pour more resources into Sativa Water District after Los Angeles County Public Works identified the extent of challenges facing Sativa and the level of support required to stabilize the water system and begin providing a more reliable source of clean and clear water to its customers in Willowbrook and Compton until a long-term service provider can take over.

“Now that the County of Los Angeles has been operating the water system for several months, we have gained a better understanding of its critical infrastructure needs,” said Los Angeles County Public Works Director Mark Pestrella.

“A state-of-the-art filtration system will be introduced to purge the water supply of the particles that have affected its appearance, and new water lines will be added in strategic locations to improve water circulation. These solutions will be implemented over three phases that will effectively enhance the water system’s overall resiliency and end the legacy of brown water that has plagued the Sativa Water District.”

This first phase of work will run from July 22 – Sep. 15 and includes the addition of an emergency connection to neighboring water company, Liberty Utility. To minimize disruptions in service to customers and limit the number of brown water spikes that might be experienced as a result of system flushing, Public Works will conduct this work overnight. Public Works will also provide customers with water for drinking, cooking and hygiene in the event of a temporary service disruption.

Sativa customers are encouraged to sign up and receive project updates by phone or via text messages by visiting SativaWD.com.