• Black Leaders Vehemently Oppose Mayor Villaraigosa’s Transportation Measure J

    LOS ANGELES – In a unique display of unity, a broad cross-section of African-American leaders are publicly opposed to L.A. County Measure J, which is championed by MTA board member and LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Most of the black leaders are particularly troubled that the sales tax extension, which is projected to generate $90 billion dollar in revenue for MTA, lacks any dedicated resource to addressing the African-American community’s request on the Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Line.

    In May of 2011, over 600 black leaders swarmed the MTA board room to support a motion by MTA Board Member Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to address the two pressing design issues with the light rail project, which is scheduled to begin heavy construction in the latter part of 2013: 1) to add a station at Leimert Park Village, the African-American cultural center of Southern California; 2) to place the line underground for 11-blocks on Crenshaw Blvd to avoid construction and operation impacts that will kill LA’s last black business corridor. The motion failed by 4 votes. Opposition to the motion by Mayor Villaraigosa, who controls four votes on the MTA board, was cited as the reason it failed.

    “Members of our community vividly remember Mayor Villaraigosa’s betrayal of the Leimert Park Village and Crenshaw community,” said Damien Goodmon, Chair of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition. “We have regularly sought compromise since May of 2011, but Villaraigosa has remained uninterested. Measure J is simply the latest form of disrespect. It is quite audacious to propose a $90 billion sales tax increase on South L.A. that returns not a penny for the transportation requests of our community.”

    The list of influential black leaders against Measure J includes: 3 of the 4 most recent South L.A. representatives on the MTA Board (Mark Ridley-Thomas, Bernard Parks and Nate Holden), the current Chair of the California Assembly Select Committee on Rail Transportation (Mike Davis), the newspaper with the largest verified circulation in Southern California’s black communities (Our Weekly), the largest and oldest democratic club in California (New Frontier Democratic Club), the lead columnists of each of the large black papers (Betty Pleasant, Dr. Anthony Samad, Larry Aubry and Dr. David Horne), former LA City Councilmember Bob Farrell, the Black Clergy Community & Labor Alliance, African-American Cultural Center, Council of Black Political Organizations, South LA Power Coalition and the California Friends of the African-American Caucus, among others.

    Mike Davis – CA 48th District Assemblyman & Chair of Assembly Select Committee on Rail Transportation: “Since previous promises still go unfulfilled, can we really trust this proposition?”

    Mark Ridley-Thomas – L.A. County 2nd District Supervisor & MTA Board Member: “In an environment where … people are asking, ‘Why are we being hit by so many different tax proposals?’ Measure J is nothing more than a distraction.”

    Bernard Parks – Los Angeles 8th District City Councilman & Former MTA Board Member: “Although I fully supported the passing of the original Measure R, this particular rendition of a tax extension, [Measure J], is not in the best interest of the community.”

    Dr. Anthony Samad – Urban Issues Forum & Past President of 100 Black Men of Los Angeles: “Villaraigosa has the audacity to float another half cent tax bond to complete current projects—not including the Crenshaw/LAX project. Let’s me get this straight—you want the black community to tax itself, until the year 2069, for transportation projects that won’t impact nor improve our community? Well, that’s straight-up JACKING.”

    Dr. Sandra E. Thomas – Former California State Director of NAACP: “Measure J is filled with FALSE PROMISES of job creation and accelerated traffic relief. It manipulates voters into paying more taxes without accountability…”

    Celes King IV – Vice Chair of Congress of Racial Equality-California: “This black leader is not going for the hokey doke.”

    Dr. David Horne – Council of Black Political Organizations: “[L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa] and Metro have consistently ignored the will of the Crenshaw residents regarding the Crenshaw Light Rail project. There is nothing in the narrative of Measure J to prevent that from happening again. We supported the original Measure R, and got nothing out of it. We are being asked to blindly support another fiscal measure that will be used for the benefit of other communities, but not ours. Fool us once, and that’s enough of that.”

    Betty Pleasant – Wave Newspaper Contributing Editor: “Absolutely not! NO, NO and NO. We voted a tax increase for this not so long ago and now the county is asking for some more?! With none of it going on the Crenshaw Line?! NO.”

    Larry Aubry – LA Sentinel Columnist & Former Inglewood School Board Member: “The bottom line is the Black community is getting screwed again by MTA.”

    Rev. Lewis Logan II – Co-Founder of Ruach Christian Community Church: “This is principled opposition based upon the fact that Measure J is as old as this republic and as unfair today as it was in its origins: ‘Taxation without representation!’”

    Dr. Melina Abdullah – Activist & View Park Prep Parent: “We refuse to pay taxes to a system that has said we are expendable.”

    Carolyn Fowler – Past President of New Frontier Democratic Club: “I fail to understand how Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa thinks he can so publicly oppose the South L.A. community and black community efforts for a station at Leimert Park and underground rail on Crenshaw and then turn around and expect us to vote for his vanity transportation tax that has nothing for us. Our community is politically smarter than that. Not just ‘No,’ but ‘HELL NO’ on Measure J.”

    Najee Ali – Director of Project Islamic Hope “Measure J is a slap in the face to South L.A. residents. It is a form of economic apartheid.”

    Barbara Lott-Holland – Co-Chair of Bus Riders Union: “Measure J is a racist regressive sales tax that will have our grand children paying for it for the next 60 years.”

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