Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Enjoying the View Below for the Soon-to-Open Metro Eastside Extension

This morning, my staff and I received a very informative tour of the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension, set to open sometime this year. We put on our hard hats, safety goggles and all the rest and went below ground where work is nearing completion. After seeing the tunnel, some of the beautiful artwork and then ascending the stairs at Mariachi Plaza, it was very easy for me to imagine hundreds of people enjoying that view and this world-class transportation system, which is going to be real catalyst for the Boyle Heights area. I want to thank Metro’s Dennis Mori, the Project Manager for the extension, Yvette Rapose, Regional Communications Programs Manager and Fred Smith, Construction Manager, for giving us the tour (as well as James Brown, who made sure we were properly suited up to keep us safe). Can’t wait for the opening!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Taking a Solar Step in the Right Direction

Today, I celebrated with Mayor Villaraigosa, Metro CEO Arthur Leahy and others, at a ribbon cutting for the largest solar panel installation in Los Angeles and the largest solar transit facility in the country. Metro’s Support Service Center in downtown is its central maintenance facility for its fleet of buses and the 6,720 individual new solar panels will generate 1.2 megawatt, or 1.200 kilowatts of renewable, emission-free power. The new energy bill for the facility will be roughly half ($550,000 vs. $1.1 million), which should mean the panels will pay for themselves in about 10 years. The most important aspect of this partnership between Metro, Chevron Energy Solutions and other supporters, is the new solar panels are expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 3,700 metric tons. I spoke today about the need to do more of these types of public/private partnerships and that the fight to end global warming will take millions of steps by countless policy makers, municipalities and states in an array of nations, but that every great effort always begins with one step. And today, Los Angeles took a very important step.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Inspirational Kids Graduating from Arts School

I joined up this week with graduating students of the 34 118 Performing Arts Academy (named after the longitude/latitude of Boyle Heights), located on the campus of Roosevelt High School . I talked to the kids about the power they have pursuing a life in art - whether it’s through music, painting or photography, or whatever discipline, that theirs is not a passive pursuit - that great art can inspire change. We honored some of the outstanding students and teachers (they’re ALL outstanding), and I invited these young artists to be part of my effort to create an Arts District in Boyle Heights, which I began after I was inspired by the growing art scene in the neighborhood.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Warning Parents and Kids about the Dangers of Inhalant Abuse

I was joined today by LAPD, City Attorney School Safety Prosecutor Veronica De Alba, the Hollenbeck Youth Explorers and the Team Community Police Advisory Board to talk about the dangers of Inhalant Abuse. This highly dangerous behavior, where abusers, mostly young kids, sniff Nitrous Oxide and other vapors and chemicals, can cause death, brain and other permanent organ damage, as well as addiction. Many of the inhalants used can be found in common household products. We also urged for the passage of AB 1015, a bill that would make it illegal for minors to purchase Nitrous Oxide.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Night of Giving Support to the Homeless

Father Scott Santarosa from Dolores Mission invited people to come spend a night with the homeless population Thursday and I was deeply moved by the stories of people made homeless by a weakened economy, as well as the 100 or so individuals who came out to support them. Dressed in pajamas and wrapped in blankets, men, women, boys and girls, listened to the testimonials given by people who lost their homes to rising mortgages and others who were having difficulty putting food on the table. Amongst a sea of lit candles, people prayed for one another and provided comfort to the homeless men that find shelter at Dolores Mission every night. The vigil concluded with celebratory songs and as the lights went out scores of people – homeless or not – slept on the church grounds in solidarity.

Making 4th Street Bridge Safer for All

I scheduled an on-site meeting with the Bureau of Engineers about the ongoing earthquake retrofitting of the 4th Street Bridge in Boyle Heights. BOE City Engineer Gary Lee Moore assured me that the project will be finished by November. And my office will continue to monitor the project and we’ll be working to getting it done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Once the main work is done, we’re going to cleanup the bridge and add a graffiti-proof finish and then we’re going to get the residents opinion on what kind of pocket park they would like to see put under the bridge. It’s going to be a beautiful sight to behold once it’s finish. I want to thank the Boyle Heights community for their patience. I promise you, it will be well worth the wait.

Working to End Patient Dumping Downtown

I joined City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo at a press conference on the rooftop of the Union Rescue Mission on Wednesday to announce a settlement with a hospital that had been patient dumping mentally ill people along skid row. It’s quite unbelievable to think that an institution that is supposed to look after the well being of its patients would even think of doing that. It’s disgusting and despicable behavior. It angers me because we’re talking about an extremely vulnerable population. And let’s be honest: our mental health care in this country is not what it should be. But first and foremost, like everybody else, people with mental illness deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. In short, they need to be treated like human beings. I applaud the City Attorney for the work he and his office have been doing on this issue and I hope this settlement (which includes fines and restrictions) will finally serve notice to other institutions: Do not patient dump in downtown Los Angeles or we will come after you.

Every One Counts in Los Angeles

I attended two events recently to promote the 2010 U.S. Census and the importance for all Angelenos to participate in this vital process. In the last census in 2000, it’s estimated that Los Angeles was undercounted by nearly 77,000 people, costing our city more than $200 million in federal dollars over the decade since. The sad irony is the people who would have benefited the most from the lost funding in health, education and emergency services, are the ones who were the most undercounted: children from low-income families, people of color, immigrants and the homeless. But there’s hope. The Mayor’s office is taking a proactive role in ensuring that we are not undercounted this time around. On Monday, I joined with other City leaders and about 500 enthusiastic Census workers who were beginning their pre-Census preparation of address checking known residents. Please spread the word that the information gathered is solely for Census data, which helps get those much needed federal dollars and to establish congressional representation. In these lean economic times, we simply cannot afford to lose another $200 million.