Thursday, November 26, 2009

An expression of gratitude on Thanksgiving

I want to take a moment today to express my gratitude for the opportunity I was given when I learned about the effort to protect the Whittier Narrows Natural Area and Nature Center.

So I'd like to say thank you to . . .

Journalist Louis Sahagun for the 2008 story that alerted me to the threat posed by the San Gabriel River Discovery Center to nature, to the community and to taxpayers.

People like Jim Odling and the other members of the Friends of the Whittier Narrows Natural Area who helped to give me and many others a voice on the Discovery Center issue.

Members of the community, who have spoken with great heartfelt eloquence about the importance of the Natural Area to them and to their families over the decades.

The twentysomethings and teenagers who have shown me that protection and preservation of the Natural Area is an issue that crosses generational lines.

The many accomplished and inspiring community and environmental activists who I've met through organizations such as the Nature Center Associates, Audubon Society and Sierra Club.

My family, for their support now and on so many past occasions.

A heartfelt thank you to all of you and to many others. You have given me more than you know.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Authority board meetings public in name only?

The supposedly "public" meetings of the San Gabriel River Discovery Center Authority are anything but. And they seem to get less public all the time.
Meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Monday mornings "was determined to be the best time for all of our Board Members." -- Belinda Faustinos, San Gabriel River Discovery Center Authority
About a year ago, a member of the community attending a 1:30 p.m. weekday meeting of the board said that such meeting times were inappropriate when most of the purported beneficiaries of the project--the community, families, students--would be unable to attend.

Executive director Belinda Faustinos responded that the board would consider moving meetings to a more appropriate time for the community. But when the 2009 board schedule was published shortly thereafter, every meeting was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on a weekday.

But wait! The Discovery Center board did finally change its meeting times.

Has the board, consisting solely of government bureaucrats and water district executives, deigned to give the public a true chance to participate in a process and project that will likely cost taxpayers and rate payers tens of millions dollars--for a water museum?

Only if you think 8:30 a.m. on Monday mornings is a convenient time for "public" meetings.

The board thinks it's convenient--for its own members.

According to Ms. Faustinos (in the board packet for last Monday's meeting), having these meetings at 8:30 a.m. "was determined to be the best time for all of our Board Members."

But not to worry, folks. Once the board decides how it's going to spend your money, they'll make a special effort to have an afternoon meeting for you. But don't count on getting a good estimate on the cost of construction, much less on how much it's going to cost you to run your new water museum.

Here's hoping you can spare the vacation time for these so-called "public" meetings. Because heaven forbid we inconvenience the authority.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

East Yards to host cumulative impacts workshop

East Yards Communities for Environmental Justice will host a two-day workshop on the cumulative impacts of pollution.

The workshop, held 6 - 8 p.m. on consecutive Thursday's beginning Nov. 12, will provide information on toxins, polluters and decision-making processes that affect the community.

An expert at the second meeting, Nov. 19, will teach data collection and help people become data collectors in their own neighborhoods.

The workshop will take place in the EYCEJ Community Room, 5117 Kinsie St., Commerce 90040.

The workshop will include training supplies, Spanish translation services, dinner and child care services.

Registration is required. See contact info on the EYCEJ home page.