This is the Jubilee year, the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington (I Have A Dream speech). The title for this 50th anniversary celebration from August 17th to 28th in Atlanta and Washington D.C. is “Jobs Justice Freedom: 50th Anniversary March on Washington (I Have A Dream)”.
1.2 million dollars is the amount of money allocated this budgetary year for Operation Healthy Streets. Operation Healthy Streets developed from the Lavan injunction. This injunction unintentionally resulted in paralysis of city services for Skid Row which led to a dramatic County of Los Angeles health report which led to Operation Healthy Streets.
City Attorney Carmen Trutanich made effort after effort to overturn the injunction, losing each time in court. Special City Attorney Jane Usher, in charge of the city’s case, made a public presentation last March to DLANC (Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council) in hopes community dialogue could help resolve the case.
From that presentation, General Jeff Page, DLANC representative for Skid Row Residents, put together the Skid Row Public Space Task Force to meet with Jane Usher in the City Attorney’s office. I went to that meeting and thought it was a great first step in honest and in-depth discussion regarding Skid Row issues embodied by the Lavan injunction.
A few weeks later, a Skid Row Panel organized by Max Cee, DLANC Area Wide Homeless Representative, took place at the Philanthropic Center for the Arts aka The Vortex (immediately southeast of Skid Row). The honest in-depth dialogue continued with Jane Usher and the Lavan injunction taking up about one-third of the night’s agenda.
As this effort was underway to build Skid Row community solutions for the issues posed by the injunction, the U.S. Supreme Court choose not to review the case though asked to do so by the City of Los Angeles. The sense I got from everyone I spoke to and what I read was this was the end of the City pursuing this in the courts and so hopefully the momentum to build consensus/find solutions created by Jane Usher’s presentation to DLANC would accelerate.
However, that hasn’t happened. Instead, the Office of Michael Feuer, the new City Attorney, has gone back to the courts asking for clarifications in the initial ruling. Carol Sobel, attorney for the plaintiffs, has said they would abide by County Health Department recommendations that belongings be kept at least eighteen inches off the ground and moved every few days.
What does this ongoing Lavan injunction court case have to do with the 1.2 million dollars for Operation Healthy Streets? Perhaps nothing. Perhaps these are two separate issues. But like the ecosystem where toxic chemicals dumped in a pond kill birds in a tree a mile away, I believe all this is deeply woven together in ways virtually impossible to perceive.
General Jeff, along with at least one other Skid Row resident, have requested an itemized budget on how this 1.2 million is going to be spent. To date, no information is forthcoming.
Given Skid Row is mainly African American, it makes sense to me the work done through Operation Healthy Streets be done mainly by African Americans and this work done mainly by African Americans be done mainly by African American residents of Skid Row. Especially in this budgetary year of a Jubilee celebration titled “Jobs Justice Freedom”.
Operation Healthy Streets is not just a name for a special city effort to physically clean the streets of Skid Row. It’s a vision.
By Tom Grode
Blogger’s note: The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Trees on San Pedro Street Project editrix, Ms. McNenny. This is a Community improvement blog and not faith-based.