Betty Pleasant sees Promise Zone gaffe as all about Garcetti

Property for rent this weekend on Graham Avenue in Watts. LA Observed photo

The news that President Obama is pumping the cash from his big new anti-poverty initiative to projects only north of the Santa Monica Freeway has not been settling well with politicos in South Los Angeles. I've been kind of anticipating the biting reaction of South LA observer Betty Pleasant, the longtime columnist at the Wave. She does not disappoint. Pleasant says the White House got the designated areas from Los Angeles City Hall, and for her that means Mayor Eric Garcetti.

So, the communities of Pico-Union, Westlake, Hollywood, East Hollywood and Koreatown were selected by the city of Los Angeles to be designated promise zones and to have all this anti-poverty money showered down upon them. The question now is “why?”

Well, I did some digging and learned that a heretofore unknown group called the Youth Policy Institute or YPI is the entity that received the promise zones grant and all the money it entails. This organization is located in Hollywood and is run by Dixon Slingerland, the executive director.... Slingerland and his YPI employees have been huge contributors to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s political career. Not only has Slingerland, himself, and his agency made huge contributions to Garcetti’s mayoral campaign last year, but he and his have been funding Garcetti’s political existence for the past 11 years, making regular contributions to Garcetti’s “officeholder” account since 2002.


They gave Garcetti money in amounts from $1,300 a month to $500 a month — according to their means, like church tithes. Most of the contributions appear to be $500 a month, with one poor soul paying only $25 a month and another managing to give $50 to Councilman Garcetti. Most of the contributions appear to be $500, then they jumped to the well-off, who kicked in $1,000 or $1,300.

I would add all these contributions and get a total amount Garcetti has taken in from Slingerland and his YPI, but I’m looking at too many numbers here and math makes my head hurt. I’ll have to get my managing editor to add all these numbers. He’s good at math.

She goes on to quote Councilman Curren Price and Reps. Maxine Waters, Janice Hahn and Karen Bass expressing consternation about South LA and Watts being left out.

garcetti-white-house.jpgGarcetti made a trip to Washington for Obama's announcement about the Promise Zones initiative, but the pages of news and flakkery on the mayor's website don't seem to be owning his part in the program. It is on his Facebook page, with a selection of photos from the White House such as this one. After the storm of complaints, he told the Los Angeles Sentinel that there will be Promise Zone money directed to South LA.

“The only places eligible for these Promise Zones had to have won a Promise Neighborhood or Choice Neighborhood grant, but unfortunately those hadn’t been given in South L.A.,” explained Garcetti.

The Mayor said the aforementioned grants predated him and was done before his administration. He said those applications had been processed by the city earlier before he was elected as mayor.

“What we did is created something called a Promise Zone where you had to see the geography of it. South L.A. can get money from the Promise Zone,” Garcetti said.

“It doesn’t say those grants cannot be spent outside the Promise Zones, it just says that part of it has to go into the Promise Zones.

Garcetti returned from the Sundance Film Festival to serve as grand marshal for today's Kingdom Day parade in the Crenshaw district.

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