Re "Money talks, this city listens," Opinion, May 7
I agree with Tim Rutten's basic premise, but he made some omissions regarding the Pico-Olympic traffic plan.
It was the city of Los Angeles' own Department of Transportation that determined County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's original idea of separate one-way boulevards was an impractical solution. Also, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa broke a promise made by the LADOT that the third phase (re-striping Pico and Olympic to create more lanes in a single direction) would not proceed until the first two phases (rush-hour parking restrictions and traffic signal timing) had been implemented and community involvement in determining the desirability of the third phase had taken place. The mayor also exempted Councilman Herb Wesson's district to gain his support.
As a supporter of the first two phases, I find myself in sympathy with the opposition, in light of Villaraigosa's override of the entire process of community involvement. Despite Rutten's comments, most of the opposition comes from smaller retailers and middle- and upper-middle-income families that have lost numerous fights against big developers.
All of us want a solution to the traffic problems plaguing our city. But the mayor needs to address legitimate concerns of his constituents if we are to have any hope of finding a successful solution.
Rutten and I agree that money talks. Race also has a powerful voice.
L.A. County's King-Drew hospital was constructed more than 30 years ago in the wake of the Watts riots. Then-county Supervisor Kenneth Hahn was the biggest supporter of building a hospital that would serve primarily African American residents, most of whom were poor.
The demographics of South L.A. have changed somewhat, but many still live in poverty. The hospital became a symbol of the civil rights era, and anyone who criticized it was ignored even if it meant poor patient care or death. It took a series of published investigations by The Times to finally force the Board of Supervisors to pay attention.
It's ironic that Rutten wants to make race an issue in King's closure, considering that the majority of those who died or were mistreated there were African American or Latino.