The crowd listened intently to the speakers.
Children, they are the future. Photos by Malcolm Ali
The theme centered on the potential devastating impact of Federal Budget Cuts on the community–specifically HR-1
The congresswoman called and the community showed to hear what she had to say and she said it loud and clear. Surrounded by elected officials from the cities bordering Los Angeles, Congresswoman Maxine Waters came onto the stage as Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” was blasting throughout Jesse Owens Park last Saturday where she explained how pending budget cuts in Washington D.C. will affect her constituents and the minority community in general–not only in Los Angeles, but also throughout the nation.
After the prayer, the Congresswoman explained the ongoing negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on both the federal budgets and how if it is not curtailed, the outcome will be devastating; and that was why she called the community together. She stated, “We’re not going to go for these cuts; we’re going to send a message to the government (in Washington, D.C.). The community is very quiet, we’re not speaking out … being very complacent,” she continued.
It was the day after Congress had squeaked by a budget at the 11th hour saving the federal from having to shutdown: furlough workers, delaying paychecks to federal employees including the military and their families, social security recipients, closing national parks and a host of other rippling effects. But that did not happen; still “… it was a short term solution,” she said, “It passed with $38 billion in cuts. What are they cutting?”
Continuing Congresswoman Waters laid out some specifics, “We cannot afford to lose healthcare reform that we worked so hard for … we need jobs … we need to rebuild the infrastructure … we have lost thousands of homes in the community … we need a dream, not a nightmare.”
The lineup that followed was a who’s-who of elected officials.
Councilman Bernard Parks: “We cannot place cuts in human services,” summing up what was previously said. “This has to be a day-to-day event until things change.”
Assemblyman Isadore Hall: “How many of you are fed up?” he repeated rhetorically a few times. “Poor people are always getting the brunt of the cuts; the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We must support Congresswoman Waters, she is like a roaring lion in Washington, D.C.”
Assemblyman Steve Bradford: “I’m here standing in solidarity with Congresswoman Waters with my colleagues from the surrounding communities.
We depend on what they want to cut; we need to stand up.”
Councilwoman Jan Perry: “Part of my district represents the highest concentration of homeless known as Skid Row. The money from the federal government is to take care of the people so that they don’t fall through the cracks. Let the cameras show (referring to some television and video cameras), we stand today with Congresswoman Maxine Waters.”
Mayor James Butts of Inglewood: “How many of you pay income tax?” he asked. “The reason I asked is that it’s supposed to come back to you. It’s not a gift; it’s your money. $800 billion bailout; 1 trillion to Iraq and Afghanistan; 125 billion could bail out the states. American cities must be first before we rebuild other cities (and countries).”
Then many other representatives from other cities were acknowledged; some spoke briefly. They included Councilman Mike Gipson–Carson; Mayor Pro-Tem Alex Vargas- Hawthorne;
Mayor Pro-Tem Rachel Johnson- Gardena; Councilman Dan Medina–Gardena;
Councilwoman Tasha Cerda–Gardena; Councilman Robert Pulliam Myles–Lawndale;
Ms. Gloria Gray, Board Member–West Basin Municipal Water District; and Mae Thomas, Board Member–Compton Unified School District.
A special acknowledgement was made in honor of O.V. Smith, the brains behind Willing Workers for the Mentally Retarded, who had recently celebrated her 97th birthday. After the Congresswoman introduced her, she referenced that many who are younger than “O.V.” would lay claim to various ailments such as arthritis. Before leaving the podium after a few words, “O.V.” said, “… and I don’t have arthritis,” to a roaring response from the crowd.
Assemblyman Mike Davis: (who came while the event was in progress) “We appreciate her (Congresswoman Waters) ringing the alarm at the gates. We have to save our seniors who worked in the sunrise of their lives and are not in the sunset (of their lives).”
Television commentator Tavis Smiley also spoke: “Budget are moral documents; the budget that was passed last night was immoral. It benefited the rich and punished the poor. We avoided a shutdown but at what cost, Mr. President. We cannot continue to capitulate. This is not the change we voted for two years ago. We see what’s happening in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio; it’s coming to California.”
In addition to the above named speakers, also in attendance was Tim Watkins of WLCAC who hosted the planning session leading up to Saturday’s event, Mark Alston of Consolidated Realty Board and former Assemblyman Willard Murray.