"Staples Arena is the grim example of what can go wrong," said Ng’ethe Maina, a Metro official. It’s been recently reported that workers at the Inglewood Forum, who were promised parity jobs in the new facility, weren’t all getting the same jobs at the arena. Meanwhile, Metro has compiled a list of $580 million in subsidies that Playa Vista is allegedly getting. Most of those — more than $400 million — are in Mello Roos state bonds for affordable-housing construction. But there also is over $100 million in city and state fee and rate waivers that Metro says ought not to have been granted without predetermining a percentage of benefits for the community. By no coincidence, Metro’s movement coincides with a city-formulated Playa job-creation package worth more than $30 million, due to be released within a few weeks. Councilwoman Ruth Galanter is among those working this project.
As you can imagine, there have recently been some extremely brusque encounters among Metro, organized labor (whose pension funds own 28 percent of Playa Vista) and Galanter’s staff. Agreements are likely to be reached, however, sometime this month. And, just perhaps, Metro may get something else it’s been asking for: a $10 million– plus DreamWorks endowment for entertainment-industry training in the Los Angeles community colleges.
Assuming Metro gets something like this, it is hard to see how this attainment would not commit it to supporting DreamWorks–Playa Vista.
The Ballona Wetlands Action Network, on the other hand, offers the community very little except the total resurrection of more than 1,000 acres of what its Web site calls "restorable wetlands." This is twice the wetlands acreage the Action Networks’ original scientist, Dr. Terry Hufford, charted in his own 1986 Ballona Wetland Delineation Map, and four times the Army Corps of Engineers’ official number. But that’s not the real issue anymore.
What’s crucial is that there is nothing in the Network’s proposal for the more than 50 neighborhood and labor organizations that constitute Metro Alliance: no jobs for at-risk youth, no career training, no low-cost housing. Many, including me, have mixed feelings about the whole proj-ect, but the DreamWorks–Playa Vista train is pulling out of the station, and it’s time for those who want to benefit to scramble on. Indeed, the first onboard was state Senator Tom Hayden, who previously had led the attack against the project, but who last year, in the wake of some savage Westside gang shootings, cast his lot with Playa Vista jobs for at-risk youth. Now it’s Metro Alliance. Cynics may say Metro is being opportunistic, but if you’re committed to inner-city employment and career education, the opportunities are a-building in the development of the Ballona Valley — not in marching against it.
Most Sinister Agenda Item of the Week
From the April 27 calendar of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Public Hearings section, Item 8:
"Hearing on the proposed rate increases for refugee disposal at the Calabasas Landfill, effective July 1, 1999."