Archive for the education Category
The May/June 2012 Community Connection is NOW AVAILABLE!
Click on the Photo above to read the Community Connection Online.
You can also download a PDF version HERE.
Click on the photo above to read the
March/April 2012 the Community Connection.
A PDF version is also available for download HERE.
The Game Changers Project was one of the many groups and outlets that covered January’s Operation Skid Row. This week, MSNBC and The Grio posted the piece on Operation Skid Row created by Carl Seaton, Game Changer Fellow.
Sign On to Support Transparency and Community Participation in the Downtown LA Football Stadium ProcessPosted in civic participation, education, health access, organizing, Uncategorized with tags AEG, Community Health, farmers field, LA, la can, los angeles, Los Angeles City Council, Play Fair Farmers FIeld, PSR-LA on March 12, 2012 by Cangress
Los Angeles Community Action Network, Physicians for Social Responsibility and a growing number of organizations are currently working to ensure that there is a transparent and participatory Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process for the proposed Farmers Field/LA Convention Center.
Please consider supporting these efforts by adding your organization to this sign-on letter, which will be sent to the Los Angeles City Council Ad Hoc Committee on the Proposed Downtown Stadium and Event Center (Councilmembers Perry, Cardenas, LaBonge, Reyes and Rosendahl).
The EIR process includes points for community engagement and comments on a land use change that will impact the surrounding area for generations to come. It is one of the strongest tools built into law that community members and residents can use to weigh in and voice their opinions and concerns on projects that will affect their health. Given the size, scope and potential impacts of the proposed stadium/Convention Center project, we are calling on members of the Ad Hoc Committee to take proactive steps to ensure impacted communities can participate in the EIR process and protect individual and community health.
Specifically, we are calling on the Ad Hoc Committee to:
- Ensure that the EIR review timeframe is expanded from 45 days to 90 days. This project and EIR are at a scale that clearly requires more time for community review and analysis;
- Support the implementation of a Health Impact Assessment (HIA), to be conducted simultaneously with the EIR review and approval process, and address its findings in your decision making. An HIA will bring critical qualitative information about community health impacts into this important process; and
- Ensure that Neighborhood Protection Plans are created for the surrounding communities of Pico-Union, South Park/Downtown, and South Los Angeles, with meaningful participation and input from residents and stakeholders.
Click HERE to read the letter, with the endorsers confirmed to date. If your organization would like to sign on to the letter, please contact Eric Ares at 213.228.0024 or at firstname.lastname@example.org by 12:00 PM on Thursday, March 15th.
Click on the photo above to read the January/Februar 2012 Edition of the Community Connection
(or download a PDF version HERE).
Click on the photo above to read the November/December 2011 Edition of the Community Connection
(or download a PDF version HERE).
“A million dollars of tax payer money that could help the poor – why is it going to one of the world’s largest architecture firms?”Posted in community connection, education, politics, Uncategorized, video with tags AEG, CBS, farmers field, gensler, jan perry, LA Times, Mayor villaraigosa, politricking, Steve Lopez on October 11, 2011 by Cangress
As first reported in the LA Weekly, LA Times, and the Community Connection a few months ago, Gensler – an architecture firm that made over $450 million in profits last year – is set to receive $1 million of public money to move their offices from Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles.
If this wasn’t bad enough, the deal – facilitated by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa – involves taking away from federal community-development block grant funds that are earmarked for City Council District 9, which includes Skid Row. These funds are supposed to assist in homeless services, serve low-income individuals, and/or address an urgent need. Instead, they are being used to subsidize the office move of one of the richest architecture firms in the world.
Last week, CBS2 did a investigative report on this:
A few days after this report, Steve Lopez wrote a column on the Gensler Million. The article is embedded below. It can also be found at the LA Times Website.
Why does a thriving business need a $1-million handout?
To lure an architecture firm to downtown L.A. from Santa Monica, the city helped get it $1 million in federal funds with the promise of new jobs. In fact, the firm is required to add only 29 positions.
In tough times, with stiff competition for scarce public money, how did a thriving multinational company manage to win more than $1 million in tax dollars to move its local headquarters from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles?
It was a piece of cake, thanks to the help of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and two people who’d like to be the next mayor — Councilwoman Jan Perry and former jobs czar Austin Beutner.
The public handout will include a three-year holiday from the city’s gross revenue taxes — a deal the city offers to relocating companies, and one that could save Gensler hundreds of thousands of dollars.
That would have been enough, you’d think, and hard to argue with. But city officials also paved the way for Gensler to receive a $1-million Community Development Block Grant, a federal program that historically has focused on stimulating economic growth and housing in low-income communities.
Gensler, with headquarters in San Francisco and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenues, will use the $1 million to reconfigure its cushy new digs in a building on Flower Street known as the “Jewel Box.” The space sits above Drago Centro and Chaya Downtown, two of the swankiest restaurants in the city.
Finally, an economic stimulus package to encourage $50 lunches and $100 bottles of wine.
To qualify for the grant, all Gensler had to do was promise city officials and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that it would create new jobs, with 51% of them going to people currently defined as low- to moderate-income.
Thousands of jobs? No.
Hundreds of jobs? Not exactly.
Gensler said it hoped to add 110 new jobs to the 300-plus that it’s moving downtown. But the program requires only one job per $35,000 of public money. That works out to just 29 jobs, and only 15 of them have to go to low-income people.
Is that a good use of your tax dollars — a million bucks for fewer than three dozen jobs?
Absolutely, Villaraigosa, Perry and Beutner say. Villaraigosa said he would have preferred to limit the grant to $700,000, but he isn’t bashful about taking credit for poaching Gensler, claiming the company will create millions in revenues.
Let’s back up, though, and take a look inside the sausage factory, something that is possible thanks to strings of emails and other documents dug up by the Legal Aid Foundation, which tried unsuccessfully to derail the grant. The law firm, acting on behalf of L.A. Can, a skid row nonprofit, argued that there are far greater needs in the homeless capital of the United States than remodeling prime real estate for one of the country’s most prosperous architecture firms.
Our story starts with the Thomas Properties Group, a major downtown player, which owns and manages a ton of property. Including the Jewel Box.
Late on the evening of Nov. 17 last year, Thomas executive Ayahlushim Getachew sent the following email to Marie Rumsey, an aide in Perry’s council office.
“Do you have any available block grant available at CDD for a really great opportunity in the 9th? What do you think?” said the email, referring to the city’s Community Development Department and the 9th Council District.
Rumsey responded early the next morning.
“It is a bit of a longshot but possible,” she wrote. “What do you have in mind?”
“Confidentially,” Getachew replied, “Gensler just agreed to move their corporate headquarters to our building. We are quickly and quietly working to make this a good move for everyone.”
But there was a caveat:
“I need about $1 million or more for tenant improvements and about $600,000 from DOT or Metro for transportation incentives … transit passes, etc…. Do you think that is doable? Can we work together on this?”
Is that the way it works? A private company contacts a council office and matter-of-factly asks for a $1.6-million handout, as if City Hall is a giant ATM for corporate welfare?
Apparently so (although the transit passes never came through), and Perry’s aide was more than happy to oblige. So, it turns out were the mayor and his then jobs-czar Beutner, who says he was trying to lure the company even before Perry got involved.
“Yes!” Rumsey responded to Getachew. “I think we can cobble something together. What is the timing? When do you need the funds?”
I would have had a few different questions, including:
If Gensler had “just agreed to move,” why did the city need to offer sweeteners?
Perry — whose mayoral campaign has received $4,000 from Thomas Properties employees and $2,500 from Gensler employees this year — told me the move downtown was not a certainty and that Gensler made clear it needed help.
So the city is practically broke, Gensler is prospering and it’s Gensler that needs help?
Gensler managing director Rob Jernigan told me his company was considering several new locations, but relocating costs were prohibitive and the $1-million grant was “one of several important factors that made the move a reality for us.”
He said Gensler has signed a 12-year lease downtown, the staff has grown to 300 and he expects continued growth.
Good for Gensler, and it may be good for Los Angeles in the end too. But as jilted Santa Monica City Manager Rod Gould put it, the poaching of companies is a risky use of scarce public money, and it’s “a zero sum game” with no net gain for the regional economy.
The way this one was cooked up, it doesn’t smell too good, either.
This past weekend, over 50 LA CAN members hopped on a bus and headed north to San Francisco for the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) Congress. They were joined by groups and folks from up and down the west coast, all of whom convened with one goal in mind – to build a regional movement that exposes and eliminates the root causes of homelessness and poverty.
During the three day event, members took part and led various workshops on issues very familiar to LA CAN – such as addressing the criminalization of homelessness and conducting effective community outreach.
LA CAN and WRAP members also participated in the Great American TARP Tour – a protest targeting the various groups and institutions responsible for the current national financial crisis and bank bailouts. In one action, over 500 people marched to Wells Fargo, a Hyatt Hotel currently neglecting the contract demands of employees, Charles Schwab and various other institutions – all of whom continue to play a role in widening the gap between the rich and the poor.
Demonstrators let these groups know loud and clear – homeless and impoverished folks are not going to stand for increasing budget cuts and the criminalization of their communities while irresponsible corporate entities receive tax payer funded bailouts.
See below for more photos and footage from the amazing protest.