Assembly speaker Karen Bass and Congresswoman Diane Watson
33rd District Congresswoman Diane E. Watson delivered what is most urgently needed in our community with her recent “Working Into Recovery Job Fair” held at the First African Methodist Episcopal (F.A.M.E.) Renaissance Community Center in Central Los Angeles.
Watson assembled the ultimate group of government, community, corporate, and not-for profit organizations and individuals with information, resources, and, in some cases, step-by-step instructions, on how individuals and families may address their economic recovery plans as the entire nation and the world struggles to respond to a global recession and the State of California, struggles to respond to staggering deficits.
Having just returned from an international whirlwind trip to Africa, the Middle East and Europe, at the request of Speaker Nancy Pelosi to assess the suitability of the United States joining the Inter Parliamentary Union, Watson was energetic and enthusiastic as she welcomed several hundred community members to the economic recovery summit and introduced the impressive panel of financial and legal experts and elected officials including California Speaker of the Assembly Karen Bass and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors member Mark Ridley-Thomas.
Bass, who will forever be remembered as the history-maker who ascended to the highest position in the California Assembly, and as the first Black and first female to be the Speaker of a state body, will also be credited for the leadership she provided in garnering sufficient support for a budget that addressed the state’s multi-billion-dollar deficit. She addressed many elements of our state’s budget and economy and urged voters to support the Propositions in the May 19th election that will determine how she and her colleagues will have to address future budget issues.
“California has 38 million people, the eighth largest economy in the world, and an annual budget of $100 billion, with 50% coming from 144,000 tax payers.” Bass explained. “We require a two-thirds vote to pass a state budget, we have a $42 billion budget deficit and we were able to close the gap on that deficiency by raising taxes by $14 billion and cutting health, human services and education expenditures.”
Bass further indicated that the propositions on the May 19th ballot include $6 billion budget measures and, if they fail, she and her colleagues will be forced to make even deeper cuts in an already deeply cut budget.
“Vote yes on the May 19th Propositions!” She implored.
Ridley-Thomas added his welcome to the audience anxious to learn of news that will benefit themselves and their respective communities. He did not disappoint as he announced what is being done to address the predatory lenders that contributed to 38,000 home foreclosures in 2008 in Los Angeles County alone, and with his announcement about the new Martin Luther King Hospital.
“We are going to open a new hospital.” Ridley-Thomas announced. “We will re-build a new hospital in that community as we look anew to address the service issues. We will take advantage of the 38 acres that have not been developed, build a new Emergency Room and re-vamp the Herbert Humphrey Mental Health Center.” He said, as he acknowledged the work of the University of California System and others and announced that the new hospital will not be run by the County of Los Angeles but by a private, non-profit entity, yet to be formed.
Watson also introduced each panelist, including Jim Clarke, Director of Federal Resources from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office, Zeeda Daniels, Fannie Mae’s Sr. Business Manager, William Flanagan, Legal Aid Attorney, and Pauleete Starks, Congresswoman Watson’s District Chief of Staff, who presented a comprehensive explanation of how their respective areas of influence will benefit community members.
While there is insufficient space here to provide a detailed description of all of the service providers Watson and her district staff assembled to address the economic needs of the community, the following list will provide an overview of where individuals may seek financial and related assistance: County of Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services, Department of Consumer Affairs, and Department of Human Services Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Legal AID Foundation of Los Angeles, Housing Rights Center, Mathews Wilson Hunter, Los Angeles Neighborhood Housing Services, Crystal Stairs- Children’s Health and Wellness, Culver City and Los Angeles School Districts, Los Angeles Census 2010, California Department of Rehabilitation, United Job Creation Council, Los Angeles Urban League, Community Career Development, To Help Everyone Clinic, Inc., and the Union Rescue Mission.
Following the individual presentations, guests were treated to a catered box lunch provided by Simply Wholesome as the panelists and service providers answered questions. Watson and Bass remained until the very end answering constituent questions and offering the resources of their respective offices for problem-solving.
“I am pleased that the community came-out to get information about the resources that are available and to learn more about what they may expect from the Stimulus Package.” Watson said. “All members of Congress are getting the information out in a forum where people may ask questions and get answers and I want the community to know that ‘the buck stops here.’ I encourage my constituents to contact my office if they have any questions about what was presented today or where they may go for more detailed information.”