On Tuesday, March 3, South LA Voters finally have an opportunity to vote on a measure which will create jobs, develop clean energy and improve the air we breathe. We strongly urge support for Measure B.
As we embark on one of the most memorable Black History Month celebrations ever, Measure B represents the type of smart public policy long overdue in Los Angeles and is reminiscent of Dr. King's visit to Memphis to fight for quality jobs and quality life improvements critically needed in the African American community.
If the current economic crisis isn't bad enough, a recent report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors predicts Los Angeles will lose 164,000 more jobs in 2009. Nowhere will that job loss be greater than in our community. This week state workers begin two days off without pay, the United States Postal Service announced potentially ending Saturday mail service and school teachers are receiving pink slips. These jobs represent the backbone of our community's economy and we welcome Mayor Villaraigosa's timely ballot initiative to actually create jobs and establish a preference for purchasing equipment from LA manufacturers.
But it's not just that Measure B creates hundreds of new jobs focused within the development of clean renewable energy sources, which we cannot afford to wait any longer to do. This initiative is an important step forward toward ensuring that future generations will not have to depend on expensive and highly-polluting forms of energy.
Pollution from burning coal and gas for electricity has contributed to air pollution and smog that is responsible for thousands of cases of lung disease, asthma, and deaths in Los Angeles each year.
African Americans are disproportionately exposed to hazardous air pollution. One study found that in 2002, seventy-one percent of African Americans live in counties that violated federal air pollution standards, compared to fifty-eight percent of the White population. Lung cancer kills more African Americans than any other cancer.
Measure B will help us save lives by keeping our air clean.
This initiative will create hundred of good, family-supporting jobs in Los Angeles with good benefits – jobs that might otherwise go elsewhere. It also establishes a job training and outreach academy and targets jobs to under-served communities. According to The United Way's historic report, entitled "The Stated of Black Los Angeles", the number on recommendation for improving the status of African Americans in Los Angeles was to create livable wage jobs. Measure B is the first ballot initiative in years to accomplish this task.
Measure B is a local economic and environmental stimulus package for L.A. It heeds Dr. King's 40-year old call to action and joins President Obama's efforts to rebuild the U.S. economy with smart jobs.
Investing in jobs, finding renewable energy sources and improving the air we breathe is President Obams's vision, its Villaraigosa's vision, and it embraces the best of Martin Luther King, Jr's call to action. We believe Angelenos should join Speaker Bass, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, Council members Wesson and Perry, Assemblymembers Price and Davis, the Coalition for Clean Air, the Sierra Club, the American Lung Association and the LA County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and vote yes on Measure B.
Rev. Eric Lee is Director, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Forescee Hogan-Rowles is President and CEO, Community Financial Resource Center, and DWP Commissioner