By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
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By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
But I think we have to also step back and say Wal-Mart has a million employees in their system. And I think five of the 10 people that are the richest in the United States all have the same last name, Walton, Wal-Mart–affiliated. So they’re doing something over a long period of time right. And I think they are in that community, and I think they have to be embraced. But I think we have to keep an eye on the issues that are brought up by unions, they don’t pay the proper wages.
You hear people saying, "I don’t like the Wal-Mart because it’s not the level or the status of the store that we think should be in Baldwin Hills." But the people who live in Baldwin Hills shop west and north. People who come to Baldwin Hills Shopping Center come in from the south. So it’s a different population that shops there than lives there.What do you think of Magic Johnson’s efforts to develop the inner city and his sometimes rocky relationship with Mark Ridley-Thomas, the former councilman for this district?
Let me just say Magic and I have been long-term friends. There have been few people of the stature of Magic Johnson that have developed in their community. And yet he’s benefited from that development, and he intends to continue developing. The 8th District is ripe for that kind of new development. And I think, whatever the contention was before, that probably the district lost many, many major projects that could have been developed, due to personalities.
We have to get beyond personalities and figure out what’s best for the community. If Magic Johnson can put a Starbucks on Slauson and Western, and the day it opens it’s the number-one Starbucks in the chain — if he can put in a shopping center and it’s the number-one in the chain — I think we should encourage Magic Johnson.
But we also want to talk to Magic Johnson and other people, such as some of the fast-food restaurants, and find out why aren’t any of their bakeries and distribution centers and their administrative offices also in the community. Not just the fast-food restaurant. Not just the low-paying jobs.What is the biggest issue for your constituents?
The number-one issue is crime. The best approach by far for dealing with crime is taking gang members out of gangs and returning convicts to being employed so we do not continue the 80 percent recidivism rate.
You know that a high percentage of people that are in state prison are illiterate. So it starts right at the school — the dropout rate, the 50 percent of the kids who don’t graduate from school in our district. A larger percent do not pass the four-year test once they complete the four years. So education is at the base of all of it. And if we believe the United Way study that says that if you’re not in a strong educational program by the age of 5 you have no chance of survival — we have a great number of casualties in the 8th District.
So those are the things that people are saying. They’re tired of seeing their kids recycled through the system. They’re tired of seeing their kids getting into the criminal-justice system because of the lack of a variety of services and a lack of education.What has the transition been like, after a career of police work, of moving into something entirely different, especially given that your time as police chief ended before you wanted it to?
Well, first of all, you don’t just look at this from the back end. First of all, you have to have an attitude that as you go through this process, you know you’re only going to be there a certain amount of time. So as you get to the point of chief of police, that job is a job that you merely, you’re in it for a while. It’s never been my total identity because I’ve been certainly working on a variety of other things in the community. So it has not been a difficult transition. You always knew that at some point you would not be a police officer. So as you plan for that, you look at your pension and you look at your issues of your work, what you want to achieve and your age and a variety of other things. You say you’re going to be transitioning at some point in time.
So I have mentally prepared, over a long period of time, that whether you were there two years as the chief or four years or five or seven, it’s a short-term issue. It was not a lifetime job. And I think by having that mental preparation, although it was not the most pleasant way to leave — the dramatics of it.How do you feel about the Christopher Commission report and the reforms it recommended? And where does the Police Department stand in regard to these reforms?
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