Our columnist Bill Boyarsky has been on the national campaign trail this year for Truthdig, and as he used do to for the Times as a columnist and political reporter, recently spent two days and 320 miles on the road talking to voters in Riverside County and visiting neighborhoods in Los Angeles. An excerpt from his latest LA Observed post:
I drove through residential subdivisions in Moreno Valley, a city adjacent to Riverside. Moreno Valley is a solidly Democratic city.
I had read about the foreclosures that have hit the area and seen television reports on them. But nothing I had seen or read prepared me for six houses for sale in a .4 mile stretch of a street, two of them now owned by banks. Disaster has struck in a random manner. Some blocks had no for-sale signs. Some just had one or two. Then I came across one with a big ďAuctionĒ sign, reminiscent of scenes from movies and books about the Great Depression. In some houses without for sale signs, neglected yards and generally shabby appearances suggested the owners had left and the occupants were renting.
I drove back to Los Angeles. I had been invited to introduce Millicent (Mama) Hill, at an event marking the 13th anniversary of Project Acorn, a liberal community activist group I occasionally write about. Hill, an English teacher at Crenshaw High School before she retired in 2000, runs a program in her South Los Angeles home designed to help young women and men avoid the gang life and crime. A lender foreclosed on her mortgage, but ACORN intervened to save her home and program....
The Project Acorn event was at the headquarters of Local 721 of the Service Employees Union. It hadnít started so I walked around the Virgil Avenue neighborhood, a few miles west of downtown. Itís a neighborhood of apartments, probably affordable for working families (if they double up) but they will be out of range if building ever resumes. At the union hall, I ran into Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas, and interviewed him on the closed Martin Luther King Jr. hospital for a story I plan to do for LA Observed on his race with Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks. Then I introduced both Mama Hill and a short video about her and about how she faced foreclosure.
Boyarsky, of course, recently completed a five-year term on the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission.
Also new at LA Observed:
- Mark Lacter's take on another scary day in the markets and the Daily Journal's coverage of tainted heparin showing up in hospitals. LA Biz Observed
- Monica Almeida, the New York Times staff photographer in Los Angeles, grew up in La Puente and brings the perspective of a native Angeleno to covering SoCal for an east coast newspaper. Like Boyarsky, she worked at the Los Angeles Times — first as a customer service clerk in circulation, later as a copy messenger and desk assistant. She got a photo internship, but was told she wouldn't get a news job without going elsewhere for experience. She hasn't looked back, holding one of the plum photojournalist spots in the country. See her work at Native Intelligence.
- Our reviewer has a good time at "9 to 5" and some suggestions before the show gets to Broadway. Native Intelligence
- Even Jenny Burman has to say, wait a minute, just how historic is Echo Park's Chicken Corner really? Chicken Corner