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Every time I drive down Sunset Boulevard toward Chinatown, I get really mad. And it’s not only because Walmart wants to move into this neighborhood without extending the most basic community outreach. It’s because of those monstrous, faux-Italian Renaissance apartment buildings that take up blocks of space on what should be Chinatown’s Gateway. Those ugly looking bunkers house hundreds of market-rate apartment dwellers and are called Orsini I, II and III. They are owned by developer Geoffrey Palmer, and the story of how they were allowed to be built is a familiar one in Los Angeles.
A wealthy developer bought some land and wanted to build what he wanted to build. City officials were bullied into believing that there was nothing they could do about it. When Palmer managed to illegally bulldoze Bunker Hill’s last remaining Victorian cottage, the city sued. Palmer counter-sued. The city settled for a compromise where the developer promised to create a project that involved the community,
It was quite a sucker punch Walmart landed against the community last week in the über-retailer’s fight to open a 33,000-square-foot store in L.A.’s Chinatown. The shot sneaked in, quick, low and hard–but ultimately didn’t end the match.
The scene last week: Los Angeles City Council chambers in City Hall, minutes before a unanimous March 23 vote on an emergency motion to temporarily ban chain stores (such as Walmart) from opening in the historic Chinatown neighborhood.
Suddenly, a startling announcement by a city bureaucrat—Walmart has obtained the permits needed to move forward in Chinatown—okayed only the day before the critical City Council vote.
The head of L.A.’s Department of Building and Safety himself, Robert R. “Bud” Ovrom, was there to deliver the news and further clarify the situation—namely, that the proposed ban would not interfere with the World’s Largest Retailer’s Chinatown plans.
Assemblymember Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa), elected in 2010, has so far made a career out of demonizing workers and attacking workers’ rights. From collective bargaining to pensions, Mansoor never saw a cherished worker right he didn’t hate. Last year, he even took time to honor anti-union Midwest legislators, whom he calls “courageous” and with whom he stands “in solidarity.”
It’s not surprising, then, that he’s become something of a shill for the campaign to silence workers’ political voice through this fall’s corporate power grab initiative. According to the Pacifica Institute, Mansoor vocally supports the measure, which proponents deceptively call the “Stop Special Interest Money Now Act,” arguing that it will limit “the influence of special interest money.” (Of course nothing could be further from the truth. It’s nothing other than a muzzle on workers that will make our system even more corrupt,
Over 400,000 elderly and disabled California residents depend on the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program to keep them living safely and independently at home. Nearly half this number live in Los Angeles County. Over the last few weeks my colleagues have written articles that illustrate L.A. County caregivers’ need for a living wage and show the positive economic impact of that wage for all L.A. residents.
I am an in-home caregiver for my daughter Elizabeth, who suffers a mental disability. She is 21 years old, has autism and needs fulltime supervision. Any parent who has an autistic child understands the unique challenges we must deal with on a daily basis — such as my daughter needing to go to a special school, having to work with social workers who check in on her, juggling multiple doctors and administering her different medications throughout the day.
I am writing this article because I know my daughter deserves the very best care.
Community members recently wrapped up the three-pronged Long Beach Rising! civic-engagement program aimed at increasing residents’ participation in local politics. I’ve been part of the civic-engagement committee, which formed in November 2011 to address low voter turnout in local elections —particularly from people of color and low-income communities.
From the outset committee members knew we wanted to do something about the persistent disparities in voter participation (and the consequences this has for city policy), but didn’t have a blueprint for this sort of endeavor. So we set out to create one.
From the start there was a high level of enthusiasm, with members from nearly 20 community organizations convening last November to begin planning Long Beach Rising! This process was facilitated by the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community.
In January, 35 people graduated from our inaugural training program.