Letters to the Editor: Is public education in L.A. really better off because of Eli Broad?
To the editor: Jim Newton writes this about Eli Broad’s effect on Los Angeles: He “pushed the immovable object, and it moved.” (“Eli Broad, leader for a city that doesn’t want to be led,” Opinion, May 1)
But in what direction did Los Angeles move? And are we, as Newton says, better for it?
I’m not so sure. Broad made unimaginable wealth from the creation of endless urban sprawl as a land developer (a title that should give anyone pause), then he used some of that vast wealth to fund the charter school movement, which privatizes our public schools and eliminates good teaching jobs.
This, I believe, is not the best direction for a 21st century Los Angeles.
Paul Andersen, Santa Ana
To the editor: Broad’s vision for making Los Angeles a truly great city (not just a large one) was focused on the principle that a great city needs a great downtown.
The downtown renaissance had begun in 1999 with the opening of Staples Center and the adoption of the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, a concept I had borrowed from New York that allowed aging office buildings to be turned into housing.
As we worked to bring more investment to downtown, I asked Broad to lead three trade missions to New York in the early 2000s to persuade developers, investors and bankers that a revitalized downtown Los Angeles was on its way. Those early forays helped to bring more than $30 billion of investment, the construction of more than 35,000 housing units and hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
The symbiotic relationship between a revitalized downtown and Broad’s extraordinary work making Grand Avenue the cultural center of Los Angeles helps to ensure that downtown will continue to be the heart of this great city.
I was proud to call Broad a friend, and we are so lucky that he made Los Angeles his home.
Carol E. Schatz, Beverly Hills
The writer was president and chief executive of the Central City Assn. and founder of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District.
To the editor: While some, including Disney Hall architect Frank Gehry, complained that Broad was a “control freak,” I would say that assessment depends on your viewpoint.
Broad was not a typical philanthropist who gave out millions and closed his ears and eyes afterward. Instead, he was a self-proclaimed “venture philanthropist” who kept a tight rein on his “investment” and wanted to see his money spent properly.
Ultimately, he epitomized the golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules. His tactics may have been questioned and his personality, at times, unbearable, but his accomplishments were extraordinary.
I wholeheartedly agree with City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas that Los Angeles lost a truly great friend in Eli Broad.
Rick Solomon, Lake Balboa
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