Random Letters 7-11-19 — This Land is Our Land; RE: Robots, tech & automation; Stone Wall Inn; On Increasing Homelessness; When the Big One Strikes


This Land is Our Land

No more accurate lyrics have been made — “This Land is Our Land” as it applies to the sidewalks surrounding the Post Office. More than four-and-a-half-years of occupation and its is clear the sidewalk belongs to the Urban Squatters; it is their land. Why is this the case? Could it be the Council Office is pleased to have so many of San Pedro’s “homeless” gathered all in one place? Could it be this is where the Urban Squatters are easily serviced with food, clothing and drugs? Regardless of the reason, it is clear these sidewalks are their land and this is the new normal; evidently accept it and move on.

Today’s photo is much like the many taken over the past months with the Tent up (should be down), sidewalk not passable and filled with crap. This sidewalk is our sidewalk, from Beacon Street to 9th  Street, from Palos Verdes to 8th streets, to Tent Park, this sidewalk belongs to the Urban Squatters.

Bob Nizich, San Pedro

Dear Mr. Nizich,

I noticed your misinter-pretation of the Woody Guthrie song This Land Is Your Land recently.

This folk song is considered by many as the “people’s national anthem”  but the verses not commonly sung in elementary schools all across America are as follows;

As I went walking,

I saw a sign there

And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”

But on the other side,

it didn’t say nothing,

That side was

made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple,

I saw my people,

By the relief office I seen my people;

As they stood there hungry,

I stood there asking,

‘Is this land

made for you and me?’

The question this song asks by extension is, “Who does the sidewalk around the U.S. Post Office belong to?”

And the answer is it belongs to all of us, including the homeless, it’s just that you and I are not in need of a place to camp out because we are fortunate enough to have a roof over our heads.

James Preston Allen, Publisher

RE: Robots, Technology and Automation

The issue of robotics, AQMD Regulations, and efficiency at Pier 400 is only the most recent and public excuse for attacking working people, their union voice, our collective communities and economies. Who will have jobs to purchase the goods imported to, or made in the USA?

The daily news reports that “we” have full employment in the USA today. Not true.

Many people in So Cal are working two or three jobs to pay rent.

Management at Pier 400 blame the ILWU for their plan to automate. Another “Red Herring.” The words “automate” or “robotics” don’t identify the type of automation intended.

Automation, robots, can and must serve humans, not replace humans. If so designed.

Twenty five years ago, our communities were filled with people who made things, contributed by their labor and their ability to purchase commodities, take care of their families and extended families and give back to others. Today, L.A. county has only identified 60,000 homeless — an understated quota of the devastation of the previously employed workforce that produced tens of thousands of products

Hopefully, the decision makers will realize before too late, the wrong decision will leave the mess to all our children to survive. They must have integrity and the courage to stand with working people and our communities, before they declare they don’t know what happened.

What will be next? What company will automate and say they can’t compete with Pier 400? Then what?

Luisa Gratz, Local 26 ILWU, Los Angeles

Stone Wall Inn

Fifty years ago, in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, a motley multitude of queer folks fought back. The stage was the Stonewall Inn, a popular Mafia-owned gay bar on Christopher Street in New York City’s West Village. The spectacle was a police raid, which had become an increasingly routine fact of queer life during the 1960s. It was summer, people were hot, and the nation was pulsing with protest.

Stonewall was hardly the first confrontation between state authority and gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer citizens. In many ways, however, it was the most spectacular and sustained. Though the foundations of what would become the LGBTQ movement were built during the decades preceding those fateful nights, Stonewall was an unmistakably radical moment, one that helped to unleash a fabulous new ferocity.

Anniversaries are occasions for remembrance, even pride and celebration, but they should also be moments of reckoning, which offer us the opportunity to reflect critically on where we come from, where we are, and where we go from here. To help us reckon with the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, The Nation invited a remarkable group of LGBTQ activists, artists, and academics to reflect on its many legacies.

I encourage you to take the time to read through our forum, “Reclaiming Stonewall.” Ranging in age from 23 to 88 years old, the participants represent the stunning diversity of our community across generations. Combining the personal and the political, this collection of living queer histories is something of an archive of our moment, when many of us are grappling with what might be called the paradox of progress: the coexistence of important changes — in courtrooms and legislatures, hearts and minds — with seemingly intractable challenges.

As we reckon with the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, let us heed all these voices and ask, “What still needs to be done?” If the legacy and inheritance of Stonewall mean anything, it’s that our fight is far from over and that our collective struggle for liberation — for everyone — must continue.

Timothy Patrick McCarthy

Guest editor, “Reclaiming Stonewall,” and author of the forthcoming book, Stonewall’s Children: Living Queer History in an Age of Liberation, Loss, and Love (The New Press).

On Increasing Homelessness

Random Lengths’ excellent June 13 articles “Homeless Count Up By 45 Percent” and “Homeless on the Corner of 9th and Beacon Streets” paint a dire picture of our housing crisis but a clear example of the government intentional fiscal mismanagement. Billions of dollars came from Props 1 and 2, but Mayor Garcetti and others say that is not enough and they want $13 billion more. That’s government for you. Garcetti said we should build 15 percent affordable housing and 85 percent market rate housing. I feel the goal should be reversed to 85 percent new affordable housing (includes middle class incomes) with a 15 percent new market rate luxury housing.

Reminds me of that movie the “War of the Worlds” where the towering monster machines destroyed whole populations, polluted the atmosphere, demolished buildings. We have created a modern day housing monster called “market rate high density” and we have ignored environmental impact, smog, green grass, and open space. We have ignored the rising cost of living. The monsters destroy everything in their path.

The city will spend $2.7 million for bathrooms but not a penny to provide the current Jordan Downs complexes an uplifting coat of paint and yard maintenance, while tenants still reside there. Homelessness is individuals slipping through the cracks. We need to address the individual rather than wait until they become a group of  hundred. If we do the work behind the scenes and set up the network, we should be able to walk up to the homeless and say “here is your new address” or “here is your new job, just go to this address,” and “this van will take you to your new home.” But we are not doing the work behind the scenes and we have made things unnecessarily complicated and convoluted. This is a simple case of pulling the wool over the public’s eyes. Voters passed Props. 1 and 2 but there are no deadlines in those laws, no set number of affordable units required to be built; the bills claim that 2006 allocated monies of five billion dollars had already been “expended.” Very little affordable housing is created, as your editorial pointed out. Unfortunately the homeless numbers are much greater than the few brave souls we visibly see living on the streets. The ACCE claims that there are seventeen million renters in California with nine million charged over 30% of their income on rent, five million charged over 50 percent of their income on rent. As the $4,000 per month market rents become the new norm, many also will be unable to afford the total rising cost of living. These mega market rate luxury monstrosities are rising at an incredible fast timetable. Yet the replacement for the Jordan Downs mixed use housing in Los Angeles, will take ten years to complete.

A house can take many months to build. There is a lot to be happy about in California — and to be proud of — but fair housing is not one of those accomplishments.The government machinery is not moving fast enough and that is by design. It doesn’t have to be this way. If we only listened to the editorial intelligence of an empowered individual like publisher James Preston Allen. As your editorial says, “the solution to do something immediately eludes all the agencies, politicians, and groups involved.” Maybe it is hard for politicians to think straight when they have millions of dollars at their disposal and they have a lot of hungry developers to feed before they help the homeless and affordable income tenants. I have faith there is an individual who can quickly solve this dire situation.

Juan Johnson, Los Angeles

Dear Mr. Johnson,

Effective use of public monies is only one part of an octagonal problem that is being approached with two dimensional solutions.  The mayor and city council of Los Angeles are slowly coming around to understanding this complexity. Thanks for writing.

James Preston Allen, Publisher

When the Big One Strikes

Please think hard about the words below as they apply to the “big one”

This 6.4 earthquake was yet another warning shot over the bow.  What does Los Angeles City Hall, LA County, the Attorney General and the California State Lands Commission “not get” about storing this massive 25 million gallon-volume of one of the most highly explosive commodities in existence within an “active earthquake rupture zone” (the convergence of multiple faults in a region) … on USGS identified “landslide” and “liquefaction” areas, with each antiquated 12.5 million gallon butane gas tank having a blast radius of over three miles? These tanks lie within mere feet of pre-existing homes, schools, traffic corridors, and over 700 homes being constructed “right now” within one-half to one mile of those tanks? The “Economic Engine” of the State of California, the Port of Los Angeles, lies within quarter-mile with the port’s public asset property line extending to the LPG facility’s own fence line!  The ports of LA and Long Beach represent an over $400 billion annual industry delivering over 40 percent of all U.S. goods.

See the clip — Garcetti “gets it” but “ignores” it, https://www.facebook.

Janet Gunter, San Pedro