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ONE MOTHER'S PERSPECTIVE

  • WHO WE ARE-Women did it again. The annual Memorial Day tradition of placing flowers on graves of fallen soldiers was begun by women in the South after the Civil War. Who knew? Who now remembers that it was originally Decoration Day? Or that it is a day to decorate the graves of soldiers who fought for a better future. Memorial Day is a great deal…
  • 453 Days Later...

    Tom Rubin
    OFFENSIVE BUT PROTECTED SPEECH-Welcome news this week from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. By a vote of 11 to 1, the court overturned its injunction against the controversial video called "Innocence of Muslims" that it had ordered off YouTube back in February 2014. Here's the background. Actress Cindy Lee Garcia (photo below) was…
  • What LA Educators Should Learn From Bell Gardens High School’s Shocking Turnaround

    Jay Mathews
    VOICES FROM THE SQUARE-Bell Gardens High School in east Los Angeles County was a sorry mess when science teacher Liz Lowe arrived in 1989. It was overflowing with trailer classrooms and graffiti. More than 3,000 students crowded into school buildings surrounding a concrete quadrangle with patches of grass and some trees. Expectations were low. Not…
  • The Clean Sweep Election Finally Happened

    Bob Gelfand
    GELFAND’S WORLD- A few years ago, a group calling itself Clean Sweep argued that the voters of Los Angeles should defeat all the incumbents and replace them with fresh blood. On Tuesday, the results came close. There are two distinct lessons, one of which is quite ominous for elected officials. This election demonstrated the end of voter patience…
  • What Did Tuesday’s LAUSD Election Results Prove?

    Paul Hatfield
    PERSPECTIVE-Did the LAUSD election results signal a change for charter schools? Perhaps. Possibly. Maybe. You can make a decent case that Ref Rodriguez’s victory in District 5 points to strong support for charters. It was a battle between two well-funded candidates with diametrically opposed views on the issue. The effectiveness and fairness of…
  • (Train)ing Ourselves to Confront Modern Mass Transit

    Ken Alpern
    GETTING THERE FROM HERE-It's great to learn that Metro has an excellent new CEO with the hiring of Phillip A. Washington who comes to us from Denver. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Roger Snoble and Art Leahy, Mr. Washington has a first-rate reputation to maintain--but his first job will be to pass Measure R-2. Measure R-2 (perhaps…
  • City Controller’s Grandstanding DWP Audit is the Real Waste of Ratepayer Dollars

    Dennis Zine
    JUST THE FACTS-City Controller Ron Galperin’s Grandstanding DWP Audit results were finally released. Unfortunately, the conclusion and political spin that came afterwards from the controller was misleading. Here are the FACTS: The DWP’s Joint Training Institute and Joint Safety Institute are administered by DWP managers and representatives of the…
  • A Place Where ‘Special Interest’ is NOT a Dirty Word

    Denyse Selesnick
    MY TURN-We need to have a new word to differentiate the villainous “Special Interest” that everyone is always complaining about and the “Special Interest” that almost all of politicians and civic and social activists have adopted as a cause. It is impossible to have passion about multiple issues. I know I have mentioned this before, but it seems…
  • Alert! America’s Small Businesses are Being Screwed by Big Business

    Robert Reich
    THE ECONOMY-Can it be that America’s small businesses are finally waking up to the fact they’re being screwed by big businesses? For years, small-business groups such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses have lined up behind big businesses lobbies. (Photo: small businesses in Studio City) They’ve contributed to the same Republican…

 

  • Can Strawberries Help Fight Cancer?

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-There have been a number of studies over the years that could show evidence of strawberries fighting off cancer. Tong Chen lead a study…
  • Study: The Best Way to Quit Smoking … Bet On It

    Francie Diep
    WELLNESS-Oftentimes, money speaks louder than words. Apparently, that aphorism applies to cigarettes too. A new study finds that money incentives…
  • Exercise Can Help Anxiety … Here’s How

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-Statistics show that over 3 million American adults suffer from anxiety and there is no evidence that number will be declining any time…




Memorial Day 2015- Freedom Isn’t Free

J. Cole raps on the Letterman show: “Be Free’

The Star Spangled Banner … like you’ve never heard it before

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Occupy LA: The Writing is On the Wall

RETHINKING LA - Occupy LA is slowly discovering that City Hall’s welcome mat has disappeared, that the Mayor’s gift of ponchos during the first rainstorm was more of a bon voyage gift than a welcome, and that the City Council’s endorsement was based on the hope that “This, too, shall pass.”

It has been more than six weeks since the Occupy LA movement took to the turf lawns of City Hall and during that time it has blossomed into a complete community that now includes a Library, a Theatre, a University, Health Care, Child Care, a Media Team, Peacekeepers, Governance, Entertainment, Public Works, Sanitation, and a host of other services, all accessible by visiting the Welcome Tent, the Occupy LA version of a concierge.

As Occupy movements around the country encounter resistance that has resulted in evictions and arrests, the Occupy LA protesters have enjoyed an environment of benign neglect from the occupants of City Hall.

The City of LA’s initial response the Occupy LA presence on the north lawn was awe-inspiring, one that revealed a kinder, more peaceful LAPD and allowed City Leadership to embrace a peaceful demonstration of First Amendment Rights.

Within days of the initial occupation, City Council President Eric Garcetti led a delegation of Councilmembers to the north lawn where they took turns addressing the crowd and where Garcetti wrapped the tour by telling Occupy LA “Stay as long as you need.”

The City Council jumped on the opportunity to demonstrate their passion for economic justice by issuing a proclamation in support of the Occupy LA’s peaceful expression of First Amendment Rights.

Since that initial “This is your City Hall!” blessing from LA’s leadership, the Occupy LA movement has settled into a round-the-clock occupation of the north and south lawns of City Hall in defiance of the ban on overnight camping in city parks.

There was a time when Los Angeles was a less hospitable free speech environment. In 1909, LA’s city fathers responded to the threat of class conflict with a ban on free speech from public streets that limited such activity to the Plaza.

Fans of free speech eventually found a home in Pershing Square where an informal outdoor debate society took root, initially referred to as the Pershing Square Philosophers in 1925 and by 1952 they were firmly established as the Pershing Square Country Club.

It was Mayor Sam Yorty that recognized the inherent danger in outdoor debate and in 1962 he declared that those who walk across the park “should not have their privacy invaded by men involved in loud harangues, by loiterers or by talkative crackpots.”   Yorty’s solution was a park facelift that reduced the seating and resulted in a “non-loitering, walk-through park.”

It is against this rich backdrop of disdain for free speech that the recent actions of the LA County Health Department and the City of LA Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) must be examined.

Occupy LA at one time operated a robust food service operation but that ended as the result of what some would call “code harassment” by health inspectors. Some have suggested that limiting access to food and water is one of the simplest and quietest methods to ending the occupation.

Jon Kirk Mukri, General Manager of Rec and Parks, recently sent the Mayor a letter detailing the impact of Occupy LA on LA’s City Hall Park. 

The letter is obviously a response to a request and its content lays down the foundation for a legal eviction, one that honors the free speech rights of the participants while addressing legally sustainable issues that can justify a law enforcement action.

Mukri’s letter opens by rebranding the City Hall lawn as City Hall Park, a simple twist that is repeated and supported by the claim that it has been a “park” since 1927. At two acres in size, City Hall Park was apparently restored to its “historic condition” during City Hall’s earthquake retrofit.

Along came Occupy LA and protestors began camping on the lawn in violation of the city prohibition against camping in city parks.

In 1993 a court ruling addressed the legality of municipal prohibitions against nighttime loitering in city parks and held them to be constitutional, offering several causes that justified the bans. Mukri’s letter relies on them all.

Mukri establishes that the long ignored turf lawns of City Hall are actually “City Hall Park” and that firmly establishes the rights and obligations of the City of LA to protect those two acres of parkland.
The 1993 court case addresses the charge that anti-loitering laws are often unconstitutionally vague because they punish status rather than conduct.

Mukri’s letter builds on this legal distinction, addressing conduct and the results that will establish cause when the LAPD is brought in to evict the Occupy LA protesters, not because of what they say but because of what they do and its impact on City Hall Park.

The court held that a “park” is “a pleasure ground set aside for the recreation of the public, to promote its health and enjoyment.” The court went on to support the authority of the city to conserve those places “in their pristine state, and to promote public health, safety and welfare in the usage of those parks.”

Add to that the courts position that closing a park at night is a responsible action that limits wear and tear on park facilities and one can see, Mukri’s letter claims every bit of legal support for an impending action.

Mukri claims that City Hall Park soil has become compacted and extremely dry, that trees and other plants are suffering from a lack of water and nutrients, that the landscape areas are in decline.
Mukri addresses public safety and liability and wraps it up by putting a price tag on the restoration of City Hall Park, calling it a $120,000 project.

Over the weekend, Mayors from around the country initiated Occupy evictions.

Portland’s Mayor brought in 300 law enforcement officers from a dozen different departments to evict 1000 Occupy Portland protesters, an action that resulted in approximately 50 arrests.

Similar actions took place in St. Louis, Oakland, in Salt Lake City, and in Denver.

One can only imagine how tough it must be for LA’s Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who also serves as the President of the Conference of Mayors. It was just a few months ago that he stood before Conference of Mayors and accepted his leadership role by declaring “Mayors, we can’t afford to be timid.”     [link]

As Mayors around the country are acting aggressively to evict protesters and to confiscate mattresses, tents, and cooking equipment, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is slowly building a case and looking for an exit strategy that will return City Hall Park to its “historic condition.”

To think that it was not too long ago that City Council President and Mayoral aspirant Eric Garcetti stood on the north lawn and declared to the Occupy LA protesters “This is your City Hall.”

That was then, this is now.

The writing is on the wall.

(Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at:  Stephen@thirdeyecreative.net .)
–cw

Tags: Occupy LA, Mayor Villaraigosa, Eric Garcetti, Sam Yorty, St. Louis, Oakland, Salt Lake City, Jon Mukri, city parks, parks, City Hall,








CityWatch
Vol 9 Issue 91
Pub: Nov 15, 2011

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