- Reporters Desk
Open Letter — Concern about honesty in City administration
A few months ago, those who support the Watts Towers Arts Center (WTAC) Campus wrote you to ask if you cared about Watts. Now I write because, at the October 16 meeting of the Mayor’s Office Watts Towers Arts Center Interdepartmental Task Force, the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) openly rejected honest engagement with Campus staff and community support groups.
The WTAC Campus and its staff provides exemplary and irreplaceable arts education and exhibitions to the Watts community and to visitors and scholars from all over the world who come to the Watts Towers, the only tourist site in Watts – Sabato Rodia’s “Nuestro Pueblo” – the unique masterwork of architectural sculpture standing as a beacon of freedom and initiative for all of us, no matter what our origin.
Instead of helping to provide the site with much-needed resources, the DCA under General Manager Danielle Brazell has put the Campus staff under unnecessary duress in a three-year effort to bring repeated charges of wrongdoing against Campus Director Rosie Lee Hooks, an internationally renowned and beloved arts educator and administrator. In defending Ms. Hooks against these attempts to diminish her professional and personal reputation, her union — the Engineers and Architects Association (EAA) — has succeeded in overturning all charges in three successful arbitrations, as well as in a recent decision made by the Civil Service Commission.
In response to this decision, Watts community support groups asked Ms. Brazell to apologize for suspending Ms. Hooks in April, 2018, for not following appropriate procedures in having a mural painted of Charles Mingus in 2017 on a Campus building named for the jazz giant. In July, 2018, DCA Director of Community Arts Leslie Thomas knowingly testified falsely at Ms. Hooks’ appeals hearing that she had been informed of public art procedures at a May 5, 2016, meeting. On September 13, 2018, the Civil Service Commission revoked Ms. Hooks’ three-week suspension after being presented with irrefutable documentation that she was in transit to South Africa at the time of that meeting. Further repudiating Mr. Thomas’ trumped up basis for DCA’s case, it was shown that Ms. Hooks had never received formal notice about the new procedures. One commissioner called the entire case “ridiculous and a waste of time” and the EAA has issued a formal complaint to Ms. Brazell.
Editor’s note: In the past few weeks, Random Lengths News received a group of Letters to the Editor from the students of San Pedro High School English teacher Michael Kurdyla. Students commented on stories from the past few months. The end result was more than 10,000 words from high school students engaging the most topical issues being discussed today. In the interest of space, we will select a few of the letters for print, while posting the remainder online.
Re: “Kavanaugh’s Party Times Come to Roost”
After reading “Kavanaugh’s Party Times Come to Roost” by Sara Corcoran, it made me realize how big of an issue sexual assault is. It’s very angering to know that there are people out there who are able to get away with something as cruel as sexual assault. It’s also frustrating to know that there are people who don’t take sexual assault seriously and don’t think it’s a big deal.
Sexual assault is not a joke and it has a huge impact on people’s lives. When it happens, it’s impossible to ever get that memory out of your head. This issue is important to me because I know some people in my life who have been affected by it and I know how emotionally scarring it is.
“Most girls rarely confront their attackers. They choose instead to share their traumas with friends or counselors along the way to self-recovery.” (Sara Corcoran, 2018) This really shows how difficult it is for people to cope with sexual assault. A lot of people were giving Christine Ford flack for not coming out about Kavanaugh until 30 years later, and they claimed she was “making it up.” However, people shouldn’t think that because they need to respect how the assault has affected her emotionally, and it’s hard enough for people to come out about an attack, so who cares about how long ago it was? It still happened and it will always matter. People need to be more understanding about sexual assault and how damaging it is for the victims. This is an issue that applies to our whole society because it can happen to anyone– old, young, male or female, it happens. People, from a young age, need to be educated about sexual assault so that they know how to avoid bad situations and so that they know exactly what is sexual assault so they don’t become attackers. If we don’t do anything about this, sexual assault will keep on happening and negatively impacting the lives of everyone, which isn’t something we want in our society.
San Pedro High School
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