Archive for September, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Mtg Thu: Preparing for Big Decisions on Crenshaw-LAX Rail Line

September 10, 2011 Leave a comment


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E-Alert Highlights
-Final Environmental Document for Crenshaw-LAX Line Released MTA & FTA
-Local Hire Under Attack
-Videographer Needed
Crenshaw Subway Coalition Community Meeting
Thursday, September 8th 6:30 PM
African American Cultural Center
3018 W. 48th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90043
(3 blocks east of Crenshaw)
Refreshments will be served
Download the flyer (pdf)
MTA’s Crenshaw-LAX Rail Line Final Document: Leimert Park Village Station In Limbo & No Park Mesa Heights Tunnel
It ain't over 'til it's UNDER and there's a station at Leimert ParkLast week MTA and the Federal Transit Administration released for public review the Final Environmental Impact Report/Statement (“FEIR/S”) for the Crenshaw-LAX Line.  The next step is for the MTA board to vote to certify the document at their Thu, Sept 22 board meeting at MTA headquarters.
Our team of experts has already started identifying major deficiencies in the FEIR/S, including outright omissions and violations of environmental and civil rights laws, which have led to the current design of the project.  The current design lacks a station at historic Leimert Park Village and has no tunnel for the middle mile (between 48th to 60th) in Park Mesa Heights.  Neither the station nor tunnel is currently funded in the project’s projected budget.
Why Are We Here & What Happens Next?
To be clear, right now the Leimert Park Village subway station is in limbo, and the Park Mesa Heights tunnel is not in the project, solely because of one politician: L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.  The Mayor is the ONLY elected representative of South L.A. who is opposed to MTA funding both necessary design changes.  Comparatively, on the Subway to the Sea, under the affluent and far more costly Wilshire corridor, the Mayor has taken a “blank check” approach.
If the Mayor put his four votes on the MTA board (himself and his three appointees: Councilmember Jose Huizar, Mel Wilson and former Assemblymember Richard Katz) behind the Mark Ridley-Thomas motion on May 26th, the FEIR/S would include both the tunnel and station.  But the Mayor voted against South LA and the Crenshaw community.
To be clear we fully expect the Metro board, which the Mayor now chairs, to rubberstamp the project’s faulty environmental document at the September 22nd MTA Board meeting.  Thus, we have begun preparing to sue Metro in court.
After the September 22nd vote, we will have just 30 days to file a legal challenge in Superior Court to argue for the project to be built with an underground station at Leimert Park Village and with a tunnel from 48th to 60th in Park Mesa Heights.  (For more about this issue view our powerpoint presentation on the Crenshaw Subway Coalition website:
This is not something we welcome.  It was forced onto the Crenshaw community – Antonio Villaraigosa has forced us to seek justice in the courts like civil rights and environmental groups before us.

Join us at Thursday evening’s community meeting of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition as we prepare for this monumental vote and the steps that must quickly follow.

LA Times’ Hector Tobar Agrees: We Must Sue To Get The Project We Want & Deserve
In case you missed it, the LA Times ran a large article on our effort and our need to engage in the type of tough actions used successfully both other communities if we expect to have a chance on Crenshaw.  The entire article, titled, “South Los Angeles Needs to Think Like the Westside on Subway” is available on our website.  Here are some excerpts:
“In certain parts of the metropolis, of course, bringing attorneys to a transit fight is old hat. In South Pasadena, Culver City and other communities that are better off than the Crenshaw District, people do it all the time. ‘They sue a lot on the Westside,’ [Crenshaw Subway Coalition Chair Damien] Goodmon said.
“[ ] I’m not naive enough to believe that the MTA board is a body of disinterested civic leaders who are going to look at the feasibility studies and the available money, and make an impartial and disinterested decision.
“You can’t spend billions of dollars in public funds without politics getting involved. Power relationships determine the shape of big projects: that’s why the trains that are already running go underground on Wilshire Boulevard and above ground in Watts.
“To be treated fairly, South L.A. residents are going to have to play the game too. If they’re going to get their subway, they’re going to have to get support at the grassroots level.”
We need your financial support today to protect and enhance the future of Crenshaw Blvd and Leimert Park Village.  Make a secure online donation via PayPal by clicking the button below.  Any donation is greatly appreciated, generous donations are needed.
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President Obama

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Poem For Lesley Gilb Taplin


Melvin Ishmael Johnson April 17, 2009

Like a long distance runner.

Lesley passed the baton.

The harvest are plentiful.

The workers are few.

Oh timeless traveler.

It’s just a journey.

Just passing thru.

Helping yourself by helping others.

Helping the community.

Helping the families.

Helping the little children.

Helping those to help them self.

Like Lesley did.

Those that know.

Teach those that don’t.

Give of yourself and volunteer some time.

And watch your life change.

It’s about giving.

That’s where it at.

Extend a helping hand.

Share your blessing and make things better.

Love books.

Love knowledge.

And love each other.

Like Lesley did.

Eternal life.

The Eternal Spirit.

Be born again and live forever.

The baton has been passed.

And now it can be told.

Lesley reached out to all of us.

And touch our soul.

Melvin Ishmael Johnson April 17, 2009

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WASHINGTON, D.C.– In what was anticipated by many to be one of Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles’ most important positive events in it’s long and negative history, Skid Row resident, community activist and Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Councilmember General Jeff almost literally got the door slammed in his face after traveling 3000 miles from Los Angeles to hopefully see President Obama.
As part of The White House’s “Community Leaders Briefing Series”, a program to better connect the Obama Administration with community leaders from across the nation, General Jeff applied online and was accepted with a reply e-mail officially inviting him to The White House through The White House Office of Public Engagement in June of this year.
A follow-up e-mail included instructions on how to obtain a mandatory security clearance through the Secret Service. General Jeff was security cleared and received a notice via e-mail confirming a July 1st visit. Due to his inability to secure a plane ticket, General Jeff requested and received a replacement date of August 26th.
Another follow-up e-mail also included security clearance instructions. Again, after re-submitting all necessary personal information, security clearance was given, confirming the new August 26th date. After panhandling enough money to travel to D.C., General Jeff showed up at The White House Conference Center in a navy blue suit and red, white and blue tie to proudly represent the Skid Row community.
After going through the high-tech metal detectors, General Jeff was given approval to enter by Secret Service security personnel who checked his name on a list. The full day’s itinerary began with a morning briefing inside The White House Conference Center. A presentation by the Health and Human Services Department was the focus group that Jeff chose to attend. Their presentation was regarding details about the Affordable Care Act, which is also known as “Obamacare”.
Afterwards, everyone was to walk across the street and go to The White House for a tour and more “briefings”, as stated on the itinerary. There were two lines to enter, one of which was specifically for members of the “Community Leaders Briefing Series”. While the others were checked off on the list, suddenly General Jeff was denied entrance. Various White House interns scrambled to assist and help to clear the matter, most implying that these types of things have happened in the past, including one wrong number on a birthdate which would cause the need for a “re-clearance”.
After more than thirty minutes, it was finally decided by all that General Jeff would not be allowed into The White House. There was no explanation given except that “It’s a Secret Service matter”, stated by an unnamed member of The White House’s Secret Service.
There was one other attendee that was denied due to a birthdate mix-up. She was re-cleared and allowed to attend the afternoon briefing in The White House. Yet and still, General Jeff was again denied access from another security post on the other side of The White House.
“What hurts the most is that not only was I representing Skid Row, I was also representing organizations from cities and counties such as Little Tokyo, San Bernardino, Cal State Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura County and Inglewood”, said General Jeff. “I was truly maximizing this opportunity to help men, women and children from so many other communities besides Skid Row”, he added. “It is devastating and embarrassing to have to tell all these folks, especially the organizations that work with underprivileged kids, that not only did things not go well, but all their hopes and dreams that they gave to me were shut out and left on The White House porch”, Jeff said with disgust.
When asked about what he thought the issue with the Secret Service could have been, General Jeff replied, “If it had to do with anything from back when I was a rapper, it couldn’t be that bad. Remember that Eazy-E from NWA made a song titled “Fuck the Police” and he was still allowed into The White House and met with then-President George H.W. Bush.” He added, “I never knew that I was MORE dangerous than Eazy-E!”.
After rain drops from an early Hurricane Irene sighting sprinkled directly over The White House and surrounding area, General Jeff had no other choice but to rush to the airport and return to LAX. “Everyone talks about there being TWO natural disasters in this area with the 5.9 east coast earthquake that just recently happened and now Hurricane Irene, but sandwiched in-between those two was the devastating Skid Row White House snub of 2011”, Jeff sarcastically, yet disappointedly added.
General Jeff also added that while he doesn’t want to create a rift between Skid Row and The White House, he wonders that maybe if enough folks both in and outside Skid Row make a fuss and get the attention of The White House, would he then be allowed to visit as originally planned and hoped for?
“Either I will be seen as a negative distraction or a champion for the causes of multiple communities. Let’s see how this one plays out.”, General Jeff stated as he attempts to regain the confidence that got him this far. He is known by many as “The Mayor of Skid Row”. He just might need some political savvy to overcome this unfortunate setback in Skid Row’s “positive movement”.
For the record, General Jeff claims to have video to further prove all of his claims titled, “Skid Row’s Road to The White House”. Release date: tba
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White House Office of Public Engagement Weekly Update – September 2, 2011

White House Office of Public Engagement Weekly Update
Good afternoon,
The White House Office of Public Engagement has a number of important announcements and updates to share with you this week.
The President is scheduled to present his Jobs Plan to Congress on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 7:00pm EDT. Please visit for information about how you can engage with the White House around this pivotal speech.
This week the White House unveiled an exciting new way to directly engage with the Administration called We the People. This dynamic tool will offer a new way to submit an online petition on a range of issues — and get an official response. Sign up for an email alert and be the first to know when the program launches.
Watch the how-to video here.
On Wednesday morning President Obama, surrounded by members of the transportation industry, addressed the pressing issue of the impending expiration of the nation’s surface transportation program. At the end of September, if Congress doesn’t act, the law will expire and projects will shut down. The President acknowledged that failure to renew this program will result in lost jobs and money – all while Washington is talking about creating jobs and Americans are calling to return to work. President Obama urged Congress not only to move forward with existing transportation projects, but also to invest in the nation’s transportation infrastructure.
Earlier this week, continued efforts to improve the Administration’s effort to create jobs and promote economic growth, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Alan B. Krueger  as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). Dr. Krueger will bring decades of experience, including serving as chief economist at the Treasury Department, and a wealth of knowledge to the challenge of creating jobs and promoting economic growth. Following his confirmation, President Obama will designate Dr. Krueger as Chairman of CEA.

Speaking before the American Legion National Convention this Tuesday in Minneapolis, the President said that America’s military is the best it’s ever been, and highlighted the ways in which this new generation has changed the way America fights and wins our wars. President Obama saluted the extraordinary decade of military service by the 9/11 generation. More than five million men and women voluntarily joined the armed forces over the past ten years. He also paid special tribute to the more than 6,200 Americans who have given their lives in this hard decade of war.

Veterans listen as President Barack Obama delivers remarks to the American Legion 93rd Annual Conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Aug. 30, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Over the last week, the President praised the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, state and local officials, and the many volunteer organizations who worked tirelessly over the past several days on response and recovery efforts for Hurricane Irene along the East Coast. Moving forward, he said that FEMA will continue to work with state and local responders to assess damage and assist in the recovery.
Don’t forget to check out this week’s two West Wing Week videos, your guide to everything that happens at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, “Goodnight, Irene” and “Dispatches from Asia.”
White House Champions of Change Program
The Champions of Change series is designed for people to look into their communities and nominate everyday heroes who are demonstrating commitment to improving their own communities, their country, or their fellow citizens. That is why we are looking for you to nominate someone who is doing extraordinary things to make a difference in your community as a “Champion of Change.” This week’s Champions focus on suicide prevention.
Suicide takes the lives of nearly 34,000 Americans every year. These Champions of Change are working to lower that statistic, to combat bullying in schools and sports, to provide resources for communities, and to educate individuals and groups across the country. These organizations have saved the lives of countless individuals through their programs and efforts. Take a moment to learn more about these Champions of Change Series or nominate Champion in your own community.
Blog Highlights

Small Business Summit in South Carolina

August 31, 2011
Over 400 small and minority business entrepreneurs participated in a Department of Energy small business procurement summit in Orangeburg, South Carolina on Tuesday, August 23, 2011. I had the pleasure of speaking at the event together with DOE Secretary Steven Chu, U.S. Congressman James Clyburn, and SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns. This was part of a series of high-level events that the White House asked all Federal agencies to conduct. Since March, over 20 Cabinet and Senate-confirmed officials and 7,000 small business owners have participated in 19 small business matchmaking events around the country.

President Obama on the Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

August 29, 2011
Today, as cities and towns along the East Coast begin to recover from the destructive power of Hurricane Irene, we also reflect on the six year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Both storms remind us of the need to take precautions and be prepared before disasters strike. and are resources with easy-to-follow steps on how to plan ahead for disasters that might affect your area.

Hearing from Nevada’s Small Businesses

August 29, 2011
Last week, Elizabeth Echols convened a White House Business Council roundtable in Fernley, Nevada. White House Business Council roundtables are an opportunity for Council members to hear directly from business leaders around the country about their ideas for how we can continue to grow the economy, put Americans back to work, and win the future.  Just as importantly, it’s a chance to provide information to local business leaders about Administration programs and resources available to support their growth and success.

Weekly Address: Coming Together to Remember

August 27, 2011

President Obama pays tribute to the first responders, those who have served, and those who lost their lives ten years ago in the September 11th attacks. Visit for ways to commemorate the solemn anniversary in your community.
August 26, 2011
Lately, there has been a great deal of inaccurate information about the Obama Administration’s record on regulations. In order to clear up the facts, particularly in view of a letter sent by Speaker Boehner to the President recently, please take a look at this blog post by Cass Sunstein.
August 26, 2011
As we commemorate Women’s Equality Day, the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, it is fitting to celebrate the many strides our Nation has made towards equality over the past 91 years. The rights, freedoms, and welfare of women and girls has been a priority of the Obama Administration from day one. From creating the White House Council on Women and Girls, to appointing a strong team of women leaders to his Cabinet and White House staff, President Obama has ushered in a new era of leadership.
Get UpdatesFor more information, visit the White House Office of Public Engagement websiteand blog and sign up for additional opportunities.We welcome your thoughts and feedback at
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White House Announces We the People

September 4, 2011 2 comments

Community Leaders,
We’re happy to announce an exciting new online resource on– “We the People” is an online engagement tool designed to allow anyone to create a petition, build support and gather signatures, and submit it to the White House for review and response.
The tool will officially launch in the next couple of weeks, but we’re announcing it now to give folks time to think about what petitions they want to create, and how they are going to build support.
Take a look at the press release below and visit the new site:
Please share this information with others in your community and help us spread the word about this new resource.
Many thanks,
Lauren Kelly
Office of Public Engagement
Office of the Press Secretary


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