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L.A. County Board Supervisor Ridley-Thomas Celebrates MilestonesÂ Â
Supervisor Mark Ridley-ThomasÂ
SUPERVISOR RIDLEY-THOMAS CELEBRATES FIRST YEAR MILESTONES ON ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF HIS HISTORIC ELECTION TO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
When he took office a year ago, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas vowed to bring "change" to the Second District and declared that opening a new Martin Luther King, Jr., Hospital would be his top priority.
On Tuesday (Dec. 1, 2009)--one year to the day that he became the first new Board member in 14 years and the first African-American man ever elected--the Supervisors are expected to ratify an agreement with the University of California Board of Regents to provide medical services at the 120-bed hospital scheduled to open in late 2012.
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas was hailed during the recent Regents meeting for shepherding through the agreement to restore medical services to an area of South Los Angeles that has been without a public hospital since the closure of the old MLK hospital two years ago. He also influenced changes in transportation, environmental, public safety and other policies during his first twelve months in office.
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas persuaded the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to move up the timeline for the opening of the proposed Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor from 2029 to between 2016 and 2018. On Dec. 10, the MTA Board is scheduled to vote on a staff recommendation to build light rail--which the
Supervisor fought for--rather than a rapid bus alternative through the 8.5-square-mile corridor.
The Supervisor also authored an amendment to the MTA's long-range transportation plan that will give the Crenshaw/LAX Corridor and Gold Line Foothill Extension first priority to new federal funding the agency will pursue.
The Corridor project will now be eligible for $485 million in potential new funding in addition to $1.7 billion previously budgeted for the line to address community concerns regarding public safety and economic impacts. The project will create 7,800 jobs, 272 of which will be operational during construction.
Together, the hospital and rail projects will generate more than $2 billion in spending and create over 16,000 jobs. In January, the MTA Board--at the Supervisor's urging--will consider adopting the most aggressive local hiring program in the agency's history.
When adopted, the local hire policy will apply to the approximately $46 billion (total MTA budget) of construction activity over the next 30 years. The new policy will ensure that local residents have access to 30% of the estimated 7,000 jobs that will be created on average each year.
During the Supervisor's first year in office, the Board of Supervisors also approved $322 million to provide new operating rooms and expand and modernize the emergency medical department at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, also in the Second District.
In addition to these mega projects, the Supervisor has made his mark on the environment, working with residents near the Baldwin Hills Oil Field and the facility's operator in an effort to modify health and safety standards adopted before he was elected.
He also lobbied the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin a comprehensive Eco-System Restoration Plan for the Compton Creek Watershed; financed park and landscaping improvement; and supported collaborative climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives.
Building on enabling legislation he authored while in the state Senate, the Supervisor worked closely with MTA staff and key stakeholders to use a $210 million federal transportation grant for a congestion pricing demonstration project. The one-year project will convert High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes on I-10 (Alameda St. to I-605) and I-110 (Adams Blvd. to the Artesia Transit Center) to High-Occupancy Fast Lanes.
As the founder of the Empowerment Congress, the region's oldest experiment in participation, the Supervisor has long been an advocate of neighborhood participation in government decision-making.
In January, his annual "Empowerment Congress" gathering: We are the Second District, Empowered for Change, drew a record crowd of more than 1,200 constituents, where they were briefed about the state budget crisis and its impact on the County. Five months later, he hosted an Empowerment Congress briefing on the six statewide propositions on the May 19 Special Election Ballot.
In response to the foreclosure crisis, the Supervisor co-sponsored a foreclosure prevention summit at Compton Community College where more than 300 people applied for loan modifications.
To strengthen public safety, he expand the "Gift for Guns" program, in which hundreds of firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition were voluntarily surrendered to the Sheriff's Department in the Compton and Lennox areas, in return for gift certificates. The program was replicated countywide.
The Supervisor also joined Sheriff Lee Baca and members of the Florence-Firestone community to announce the successful culmination of a three-month process to enforce against the notorious Florencia-13 street gang. In an effort to provide a healthy alternative to at-risk youths, he also provided money to keep county pools in his district open beyond the normal summer schedule.
The Supervisor worked with Marian Wright Edelman, the legendary founder of the Children's Defense Fund, to identify prospective providers of an innovative summer after-school program called Freedom Schools that are designed to enhance the learning experiences of African American children.
At his urging, the First 5 LA Commission voted to provide funding for five community-based agencies whose services to address disparities in the birth outcomes of African-American women were threatened by state budget cuts.
In effort to strengthen protection of abused children, the Supervisor authored a motion to complete the Department of Children and Family Services' hiring of a Special Investigator.
He also enlisted the services of the County Auditor-Controller to review recent children's deaths and identify trends and deficiencies in the department's policies.