June 2, 2011 - Issue 429
MTA and The Mayor
On The Leimert Park Stop Vote:
The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority did its usual “rope-a-dope” with the black community last week on the most important infrastructure investment of the next 100 years. Several things came into crystal clear reality;
Community interest finally triumphed over grudges. We just knew we were in for a good day, until we showed up (all 600 of us). Then it hit: this city will always be reluctant to make a significant infrastructure investment in the black community. “Betting on black” is not this city’s strong suit. Trickin’ the community on votes that build for the future are.
It became clear that the MTA Board was almost offended that MTA Director Ridley-Thomas would take a project not on the development schedule until 2029, get it moved up almost a decade and a half to 2016 (or 2018), take a $346,000 bus line and get it upgraded to a $1.715 billion dollar light rail line, and then come back in and ask for an additional $500 million dollars to include the cultural epicenter of the black community and avoid the fragmentation of business interests in his community in his advocation of an underground tunnel. Offense turned to hostility quite quickly as a hidden agenda played out.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had played coy all week, refusing to disclose where he was on the vote, claiming he was “listening” to all sides. As it turns out, the Mayor really wasn’t listening at all as his appointee’s to the board played out his agenda for him. After Supervisor (and MTA Director) Zev Yaroslavsky implored “consistency” as he attacked the project (and Ridley-Thomas) for trying to force parochial interests on the board, inconsistent with a previous agreement not to vote projects that didn’t have full funding in place, and after Supervisor (and MTA Director) Molina assailed Yaroslavsky’s hypocrisy and the Board’s disingenuousness around its disproportionate distribution of resources that have historically shortchanged the Eastside and the Southside, Mayor Villaraigosa stroked the black community in his usual way before he turned his dogs on the project. Villaraigosa appointee’s Mel Wilson and Richard Katz totally unraveled the project.
The final MTA board position was that the Leimert Park Village (LPV) stop be approved with no additional funding, on the premise that the additional $131 million hadn’t been identified and the low bids ought to leave room for the LPV stop to happen. What kind of fools do they think we are? We know infrastructure project bids come in low to get the project, but the contractors “cost change” the projects to death. Rarely is there money left on the table. So we know the game.
I’m not going to spend a lot of space saying anything more about Antonio Villaraigosa than I’ve always said in the past. I believe he’s disingenuous and plays our community regularly…and we will see him again one day as his ambition doesn’t end here at the Mayor’s Office. Instead I’ll focus in how common it has become to reward our community’s support with appointments, commissions and proclamations instead of infrastructure and industry that lasts beyond an elected official’s term of office. Villaraigosa is the third Mayor since the late Tom Bradley left office, to come to our community, make promises and not keep them.
and Hahn before him, he serves our community by appealing to individual
self-interests in the appointment of individuals, instead of investing
in the community itself. You don’t have to do nothing for our community
if you promote the interest of a few individuals.
If not for the
demand of the community and Ridley-Thomas’ advocacy, city leadership
was prepared to leave South Los Angeles out of the infrastructure development
for nearly another two decades (as it has left South Los Angeles out
of commercial development). At some point, the development of South
We got tired
of the white “city fathers” passing over
Park Mesa lost by the margin that Villaraigosa controlled. He fronted us off again. Then he sent a press release out claiming he supported the project. Yeah, in theory, not in funding. What good does that do the project? Even when we win, we lose with this guy. He’s never with us when it counts most. But he’s gonna’ want us to bet on him again one day…
The point here is, we haven’t gotten any more from him than we got from the other man, besides a few department appointment, a few commissioners and all the proclamations we can hang. And we should be happy when he shows up at our events. Really, now? Is that what we really thought we were getting when we dumped Hahn for Villaraigosa? There’s a saying, “What I do for myself, dies with me. What I do for others, lives indefinitely.” His puppet appointments go out with him. The Crenshaw/LAX line will last 100 years and every time it goes down Crenshaw, we will remember what he did. Villaraigosa killed what legacy he had in our community. Not that he really cared.
Otherwise, he would have taken a chance and bet on black, like black bet on him.
BlackCommentator.com Columnist, Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad, is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum and author of Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom. His Website is AnthonySamad.com. Click here to contact Dr. Samad.