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LOS ANGELES Monday, May 25th 2015 2:25

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

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Walking Works for LA

RETHINKING LA - One of the simplest ways to reduce the traffic congestion that surrounds LA’s schools in the morning and in the afternoon is to support children as they walk and bicycle to school, yet the City of LA continues to engage in a charade that’s all talk and no walk (or ride!)

All it would take is to fix the sidewalks and repair the streets that kids walk and ride as they commute to and from school. Add some refuge islands and roundabouts and streets would be safer to cross. Complement that with some speed tables and shared street design and our streets would work better for everybody.

Typically, the debate over the delivery of city services comes with LA’s standard “budget crisis” excuse but in this case, there is significant federal (SRTS) and state (SR2S) funding that can be used to support children as they walk and bicycle to and from school.

Safe Routes to School is administered by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and there is funding to provide infrastructural improvements as well as funding to  address distracted driving through education and enforcement. Programs that educate and encourage parents, teachers, administrators and students on pedestrian and cyclist safety also qualify.

The City of LA is a notoriously weak performer in the competition for SRTS and SR2S funds, not only failing to qualify for its proportionate share but then defaulting when it does qualify by failing to execute the funded projects.

Funded parties are given four and a half years to spend the money they qualify for or they get “red-flagged” and are suspended from further grant cycles until they clear their past projects.

The City of LA spends more time arguing for extensions and exceptions than it spends simply working on the streets, enforcing the law, educating the community, and encouraging healthy and safe behavior.

This bureaucratic traffic jam within the City of LA has resulted in lost revenue and a missed opportunity to reduce traffic congestion and make our streets safer for everybody.

During the last funding cycle, the City of LA failed to even submit funding applications that would demonstrate a citywide commitment.

As if broken sidewalks and busted streets are hard to find!

In the competitive Safe Routes to School funding process, projects that come with community support do better than those that are simply proposed by traffic engineers seeking funding for routine scheduled roadway improvements.

Yet the City of LA has the audacity to set a deadline for community nominations that falls on this Friday, January 20, 2012.

How does the City of LA expect the community to engage in a process that offers no real opportunity for real participation?

Surrounding communities (the ones that beat LA in the funding competition) have formed Safe Routes to School organizations that engage the community in ongoing campaigns that use the funding process to educate the community.

Children who walk and bicycle to school are more likely to reach the recommended goal of 60 minutes of physical activity each day, they will arrive at school energized and ready to learn, and they take an active role in their well-being.

What does the City of Los Angeles have against Safe Routes to School funding and why is it so reluctant to get competitive?

Last year, a group of community advocates took a Safe Routes to School project to the City of LA in search of support and a commitment to enter it into the pool of submitted projects. It was an ambitious project, one that proposed improvements to a busy arterial with four schools within walking distance.

The traffic engineers looked at the project and expressed a lack of interest, advising the advocates to take it to the Council office for support, after all, “We get paid the same whether or not this project gets funded. The difference is this, if it gets funded, we have more work to do.”

The honesty is refreshing but the revelation is contemptible.

To charge the City of LA with a lackluster commitment to LA’s most vulnerable mode share, children walking and bicycling to and from school, is a harsh charge but the evidence stands.

The City of LA’s infrastructure is unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists and the token gestures at improving the walkability and rideability of the neighborhoods around our schools fall far short of a commitment to our children.

The City of LA’s performance in past Safe Routes to School funding cycles pales in comparison to smaller surrounding cities with smaller staffs who somehow are able to translate a real commitment to public safety into great projects. LA, on the other hand, turns in weak projects, complains about “Fair Share,” and then fails to spend the money when it eventually qualifies.

The City of LA is currently in the process of preparing for the State of California’s Cycle 10 SR2S process which comes with a deadline of March 30, 2012. (City of LA has given community members until January 20, 2012 to submit their projects)

The City of LA has two months to come up with innovative and inspirational projects that will not only make it safer on our streets and sidewalks, but that will also serve as an invitation to walk or to ride, improvements that encourage great behavior and bring neighborhoods together.

If the City of LA is unable to come up with at least two great proposals per Council District for this coming funding cycle, perhaps it’s time to look at the Cities of San Fernando, Rancho Palos Verdes, Burbank, Covina and Claremont. What are they doing that LA isn’t doing?

The City of LA has a long history of talking the talk, but when it comes to Safe Routes to School can it walk the walk?

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

CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 5
Pub: Jan 17, 2012

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