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Inglewood City Council Balks at Saving Universal LifeLine for Seniors

INSIDE INGLEWOOD-In June, Assemblymember Steve Bradford (D-Westchester) quietly used the “gut and amend” method for AB 1407, a bill that is apparently intended to gut the Universal LifeLine service that senior citizens and others on fixed incomes need in these lean times.

 

At the September 10 city council meeting, the most talked-about item was not on the agenda. It was Bradford’s bill, AB 1407.

Inglewood United Democratic Club President Lynette Lewis made the case against the bill clear.

“I am asking the [city] council to make a resolution to pull [AB 1407] back. We have stopped the bill; it was in the Assembly but is now in the Senate and we have held it up in the Senate for review,” she said.

Nevertheless the council balked at even attempting a resolution.

“I want to piggyback on comments made by residents concerning AB 1407. The Sacramento session will be closed this Friday the 13th, so for us to do a request ... may not get there fast enough,” quipped District 4 council member Ralph Franklin.

He added, “And because it has already passed through the Assembly and gone to the Senate, we need to get clarification as to what language has been introduced for adoption.”

The language in the brief 19-page document has been available since April 16. It is easy to understand the remaining nine pages after Bradford’s mass deletions.

In a separate closing comment District 2 council member Alex Padilla implied that the council had plenty of time to review the bill’s language and act on it.

“What I find interesting is when [residents] come in and talk about being ignorant and then wanting [council members] to tell them what they’ve read as opposed to them reading it and being self-educated,” he said.

He was alluding to agenda packets which are made available just four days prior to any given council meeting and can run up to 200 or more pages. For people with five-day work weeks, family obligations and remarkably high taxes to pay, that is a lot of weekend work.

If citizens are expected to read massive agenda packets that on a weekly basis, then surely council members can read a heavily redacted 19-page document and prepare a “self-educated” comment on it.

In 1996, the Moore Universal Telephone Service Act establishes the Universal Lifeline Telephone Service program in order to provide low-income households with access to affordable basic residential telephone service.
 
In Bradford’s bill AB 1407, there are subtle terms that drastically change the insurance of the Moore Act.

“The bill would state the intent of the Legislature to ensure that California residents have access to technologies and services and to promote technological neutrality by giving lifeline customers the ability to choose the communications provider and service that best meet their unique needs, while encouraging providers to participate in the lifeline program.”

The key words are “intent” and “encouraging.” With AB 1407, there is only the “intent” of the state to “encourage” providers—there is no “establishment” of basic telephone service.

Moreover, the bill was originally introduced by the Committee on Utilities and Commerce: Bradford (Chair), Bonilla, Fong, Garcia, Quirk, Rendon, Skinner, and Williams and thereafter redacted and re-written by Bradford.

As the sole author of the revised bill, Bradford has the power to revoke this bill—provided he is prompted to do so.

Requests for comment to the mayor and all four district council members were not returned.

 

(Randall Fleming is a veteran journalist and magazine publisher. He has worked at and for the New York Post, the Brooklyn Spectator and the Los Feliz Ledger. He is currently editor-in-chief at the Morningside Park Chronicle, a monthly newspaper based in Inglewood, CA and on-line at www.MorningsideParkChronicle.com. Views expressed and/or conclusions reached by Mr. Fleming are his and do not necessarily reflect those of CityWatch.)

-cw

 

 

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 11 Issue 78

Pub: Sept 27, 2013