Community Update – Sept 22, 2010
There is an important update regarding our struggle for the safety, equity and preservation of the South LA communities and children along MTA’s rail routes.
In this newsletter, we address the question, “What’s Next?” now that the CPUC has reversed itself regarding the Farmdale Avenue crossing next to Dorsey H.S., and MTA has laid tracks across the intersection.
Also, our movement and its leader are being honored tomorrow by the prestigious Urban Issues Forum as the Issues Advocate of the Year. Join us if you can, tickets are still available. More info below.
First Step in Farmdale Appeal Filed
By now you have heard the news that in late July after heavy lobbying from our local City Council Members, Westside politicians and their high-paid lobbyist Sandra McCubbin (a former Chief Lobbyist for Enron), the CPUC reversed its previous February 2009 decision, which REJECTED the holding pen and a street-level crossing adjacent to 2,100 student Dorsey High School. (Link to Previous Decision). On its face the CPUC’s July decision allowing MTA to build a holding pen to corral our students in while 225-ton trains pass by their face, appears to be a loss in an important battle of our long war. But in reality it opens the first real opportunity we have for ultimate victory at the Farmdale crossing in the nearly 4 yrs since Fix Expo was been working on this issue.
After the Decision was published our award-winning legal team went to work immediately, and earlier this month filed what is the first step in our Farmdale appeal, an Application for Re-Hearing before the CPUC. (download the pdf) This is the final administrative process we have to go through the CPUC before we are allowed to request the case be elevated to the court that reviews CPUC decisions, the California Court of Appeals. The opportunity to have the matter heard by the Court of Appeals is tremendous. It is a game-changer. It takes this issue out of the ballpark of CPUC Commissioners who pay more attention to lobbyists and politicians than the law, an into a real court of judges.
As our Application for Re-Hearing succinctly makes clear, the CPUC’s reversal is so factually flawed, the record and previous February 2009 decision are so clear, and the principle of res judicata is so enshrined in our judicial system that the likelihood of our case being heard AND decided in our favor by the California Court of Appeals is very good. (Take five minutes to read our Application – the link is above). When determining whether to reverse a lower court decision, among other factors, the appellate court focuses heavily on whether the court abused its judicial discretion, misinterpreted the law, and/or the appellant was denied due process. With the July Decision and the litany of shenanigans that led up to it, figuratively speaking the CPUC made it’s decision with a drunk judge and a bought-off jury. (We’re being figurative about the drunk judge part).
And so, like civil rights giants before us, who had to in the face of opposition from politicians who knew better, and who similarly lost cases at the lower level before they were granted victory in the high court, WE CONTINUE OUR LEGAL BATTLE!
For those worried about the tracks being laid, know that the Expo Line is not scheduled to begin operations until April 2011. We have plenty of time to get an injunction to prevent a catastrophe at the foot of our community’s school, as warned by the nation’s foremost rail safety expert (link) and internationally renowned expert in human factors (link). Thus, we have plenty of time to get a higher court to mandate those unsafe tracks be pulled right back up.
So it is clear, the Fix Expo Team will not stop – we will not rest until the children of Dorsey are provided the same level of safety on the Expo Line as the USC students crossing Figueroa (where Expo goes under the street in a trench) and the Culver City students (where Expo goes over all intersections in the city on a bridge).
Issues Advocate of the Year Award
THURSDAY AFTERNOON (forgive the late notice), Fix Expo Campaign leader Damien Goodmon is being honored as the Issues Advocate of the Year by the esteemed Urban Issues Breakfast Forum, which is led by Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad. (Ticket information is below). We are humbled to be honored beside a giant in the movement for change in our community Betty Pleasant, generous public servants Holly Robinson & Rodney Peete, the remarkable I Am Oscar Grant Campaign and noted CNN & TV One commentator Roland Martin.
The Fix Expo Team and Damien simply cannot consider this an individual award, but rather the product of our collective efforts in bringing the community together, educating our people and the public at large about the facts to combat MTA’s spin, and our courage to unabashedly and unapologetic demand that which is wrong be made right – to demand our elected officials be held accountable.
We can point to a lot of accomplishments in the nearly four years since we decided to formalize a campaign. Most measurably we have buried that horrible premise that our community will continue to accept less than we deserve. The impacts can already be seen, notably as our MTA continues its studies on the proposed Crenshaw Light Rail Line.
Each of you have been an integral part of our success. It was your attendance at the meetings and the hearings, your letters and phone calls to the decision makers, your conversations in the grocery store check out line, your energy to march the streets in unity, which have been the beating heart of our movement to alter the scales of power in South L.A. in defense of our safety and preservation.
Please join us in celebrating this momentous occasion at the Sheraton Delfina in Santa Monica from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Tickets are still available, purchase them here: http://uifinauguralnewsmakersluncheon.eventbrite.com (And I must point out that this is the first time the Urban Issues Forum has ever requested a donation for entry. For 10 years Dr. Samad has been bringing us the chief newsmakers to discuss the issues that impact our community for free AND with a free breakfast.)
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