Random Lengths News

The Pressure Mounts

- By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

Tim McOsker’s official position on community issues isn’t the problem. His relationsh­ip to the monied and the politicall­y connected is. Some consider this to be his strength as a candidate for Los Angeles City Council District 15 representa­tive, but a growing number of people like his opponent Danielle Sandoval, consider this a deficit and a potential source of conflicts of interest or loyalty.

Corruption at city hall isn’t always about the dishonest and/or illegal behavior of powerful electeds and other influentia­l people. Or even the inducement to do wrong by unethical and/ or unlawful means such as bribery. Corruption at city hall is the departure from the original intent and correct purpose of city hall, which is to serve the citizens of Los Angeles, not the monied elites.

But there are many examples that show that any place where power and influence gather, it is bound to subvert or corrupt decisions made in government at the expense of everyday Angelenos who don’t have money, power and influence to affect their communitie­s.

The history of corruption at LA City Hall goes back more than a century to the Owens Valley water scandal (remember the film Chinatown) and the reforms from the Progressiv­e era that diversifie­d political power in a reformed city charter.

Over the past four decades, Tim McOsker has worked with three of the most prominent and politicall­y connected law firms in the city, firms that have grown to become some of the most prominent [powerful] firms in the country with clientele that range from industry titans and city government­s, to Hollywood moguls and music industry scions.

Because of this experience, he is likely one of the most informed and brightest individual­s in the

room when it comes to policy and leveraging resources to benefit everyday citizens of the 15th District. By that same token, everyday citizens should be concerned about whether their voices will be heard over the clamor of individual­s and business entities that have worked with McOsker over the past 35 years vying for his attention and favor if he’s elected.

At the Oct. 5 community forum at San Pedro’s Warren Chapel CME Church, residents who don’t live in San Pedro got a chance to see this at work. Topics ranged from encouragin­g better relationsh­ips between the community and Los Angeles Police Department’s Harbor Division while holding officers accountabl­e in excessive force incidents; from ensuring a collaborat­ive approach to economic developmen­t plans to safeguardi­ng communitie­s from oil and gas operations to housing the unhoused without chasing them from one community to the next.

There’s very little daylight between Danielle Sandoval and McOsker in their policy positions. But what stood out during the Oct. 5 candidates’ forum was the depth and specificit­y of McOsker’s thoughts on developmen­t in Watts and arguably the rest of the 15th District.

McOsker spoke of utilizing a tool called the Enhanced Infrastruc­ture District to use tax-increment financing (echoing the ways the defunct Community Redevelopm­ent Agency financed local developmen­ts) for new developmen­t projects. When Gov. Jerry Brown dissolved local community redevelopm­ent agencies in 2011-12, the city was forced to act on its remaining 19 redevelopm­ent projects before time ran out on properties from North Hollywood to San Pedro. The governor appointed a three-member governor board that included McOsker back when he was still employed by Mayer Brown LLP. It was during the time the Watts Cultural Crescent was made a part of the city’s 50 Parks Initiative — an initiative with the goal of bringing parks to densely populated neighborho­ods and communitie­s lacking open space and recreation­al services.

This was supposed to be the fulfillmen­t of a 55-year dream — the developmen­t of an artsdriven community gathering place with the potential to raise property values on par with any budding arts community. The confluence of two factors changed the trajectory of the Watts Cultural Crescent: the need for more housing to stem the tide of rising homelessne­ss and the ending of the CRA which would spell the end of a pot of money to address the issue.

In December 2014, city staff determined that the planned Watts Historic Train Station Visitors Center was instead an opportunit­y for a transitori­ented mixed-use housing developmen­t — a density housing plan stakeholde­rs and residents didn’t ask for. The crescent-shaped swath of land was zoned for public facilities and open space as late as 2017. By 2018, the crescent was a part of the $2.8 million Thomas Safran and Associates deal for a 213-unit senior housing project.

This is important because the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, a nonprofit founded just before the Watts Rebellion in 1965, and formed a developmen­t corporatio­n and built a 64-unit housing complex for the formerly incarcerat­ed and the unhoused.

“Sixty-four families live in that complex,” Timothy Watkins, the head of the WLCAC, said in an interview with Random Lengths News last year. “We’ve renovated about 300 units of other property that we already owned to refresh and renew those living conditions and we’ve got close to another 400 units that we’re planning to renovate for ourselves and others,” he said.

The WLCAC wasn’t even in considerat­ion for developing a part of the Watts Crescent. Thomas Safran and Associates, however, is a donor to McOsker’s campaign alongside a few employees of the developmen­t firm.

Watkins said they planned to build 2,000 units in Watts on land already owned by the WLCAC. But they’ve been waiting for the right timing. With the developmen­t rush that’s occurring all over the city, Watkins believes now is the time to execute the organizati­on’s developmen­t dreams.

In the case of the WLCAC, it wasn’t as if no one knew Watkins and his nonprofit organizati­on. It’s just that nonprofit organizati­ons like WLCAC and others aren’t in the pockets of electeds the way developers such as AEG, LINC Housing, or Bold Communitie­s are. Sandoval dinged McOsker for taking oil money, but McOsker denied it and then challenged her to provide evidence that said otherwise.

Maybe McOsker can be forgiven for not realizing Phillips 66 and Vopak are some of the nearly 1,800 donors as of Oct. 10 to his campaign.

If his donor list were organized by city or zip code, the majority would hover around the Port

of Los Angeles. Clearly, the corporate power structure of the Port of LA is backing McOsker over Sandoval and this has local environmen­talists uneasy.

Sandoval, for her part, doesn’t need to be as knowledgea­ble and come to the table with the same level of expertise as McOsker. What she did need to do was remind voters that as a woman of color with working-class roots, her origin story is more like the majority of the 15th District.

Throughout the two-hour forum, Sandoval referenced her story as a teenage single mother who had to figure things out after her child’s father was murdered.

Indeed, one of the first questions posed to the candidates was in regard to the violent LAPD detention of a Harbor City teen last month after filming another arrest. That it happened at an LAPD-sponsored Summer Night Lights event intended to bring the department and community members closer together shocked community members. At the forum, the question was asked: What would you do to support holding Harbor Division accountabl­e when there are excessive force issues on community members?

McOsker gave a good answer. He noted that Summer Night Lights is designed to create safe spaces for kids and that that incident was the exact opposite of what we try to promote at events like Summer Night Lights. McOsker went on to note that in cases of excessive force, he would call it out and look to make sure that the incidents are fully investigat­ed and that the department and officers are held accountabl­e for acts that are illegal.

Daniel Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance, said, “…overall, I think this is excellent, and it’s right in line with what our position has been on the need to restore our forests so they can function the way they once used to, particular­ly regarding water supply yield … Great content, and awesome imagery.”

Watershed healing is an important national security issue. Former secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano says, “It’s climate security, water security, food security … ensuring that those things are adequately taken into account and planned for is an unmet challenge, I would say, in the United States.”

“My approach to doing documentar­ies is to take the audience to some place they’ve never been before, and educate and inform them,” said Thebaut, whose public speaking engagement­s have included the United Nations and the United States Congress.

The Chronicles Group is the result of Thebaut’s understand­ing the need for world policy for human sustainabi­lity. Thebaut is an Army Veteran and has earned two bachelor’s degrees and a masters. He created and produced his first documentar­y, A Tale of Two Cities, while studying at the University of Washington. The documentar­y compared and contrasted Southern California to the Puget Sound region. The goal was to keep Seattle from repeating the ecological mistakes made in Orange County and the San Fernando Valley.

As a pioneer during the ’70s, Thebaut created the first programmat­ic environmen­tal statement in the U.S. His findings regarding proposed nuclear power plants near

Seattle resulted in the withdrawal from the proposal. Through public education projects, documentar­ies, and commercial films, he has made an impact in helping bring awareness to issues such as illegal toxic waste dumping and toxicity of the human race, among other things.

Thebaut persists in his drive to inform the world and initiate positive movement where his work continues to shape holistic global sustainabi­lity policies.

It’s time for Southern California­ns to get informed about what their water utilities are doing to protect them from inevitable shortages of water. Attend Oct. 15, for a screening of California’s Watershed Healing and to hear a discussion by local water agencies on droughtpro­ofing California’s water future.

Time: 4 p.m., Oct. 15

Cost: Free

Details: https://tinyurl.com/Ca-WatershedH­ealing and www.drought.gov

Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

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 ?? ?? Tim McOsker and Danielle Sandoval, candidates for CD15 representa­tive with moderator and former Inglewood mayor Daniel Tabor, speak at a community forum on Oct. 5. Photo by Arturo Garcia-Ayala
Tim McOsker and Danielle Sandoval, candidates for CD15 representa­tive with moderator and former Inglewood mayor Daniel Tabor, speak at a community forum on Oct. 5. Photo by Arturo Garcia-Ayala

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