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News From the Frontlines

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Los Angeles Needs All Its Young Men

This week, I will begin to talk to friends, donors, foundation executives and other allies at the Uplifting Change Summit about Brothers, Sons, Selves, our case for Liberty Hill’s stepped-up investment in improving the lives of L.A.’s low income boys and young men of color. You can read Brothers, Sons, Selves here

From Food Deserts to Food Oases

Oh my gosh! It's suddenly Hanukkah, and Christmas is right around the corner!
Believe it or not, I’m not thinking about gifts. I’m thinking about cooking. And eating. Maybe for our family's potluck dinner I’ll prepare my crunchy marinated green bean dish--raw, fresh green beans and mushrooms, locally grown and organic. Whatever I decide to bring, everything will be organic, purchased from a farmers market or my local Whole Foods.

Affordable Housing & Hermilo Quintana—An LA Story

Hermilo Quintana has always worked. He’s pressed shirts in a laundry, cleaned floors and toilets in a beauty salon, and cut diamonds in the Jewelry District. For the past eight years, he’s worked for K-Mart in "replenishment" — placing merchandise back on shelves from 6 p.m. till 2 a.m. most nights. With a salary of $11.33 per hour, he's grossed between $1,400 and $1,500 per month, or about $18,000 annually. Now that K-Mart has trimmed his hours, he makes less.

Unionizing Carwash Workers—It Won’t Be Easy

After the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, a Liberty Hill grantee, uncovered massive violations of wage and health and safety laws, two carwash owners, brothers Benny and Nisan Pirian, were investigated by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office and charged in a 174-count criminal complaint. The brothers subsequently were sentenced to a year in jail for minimum-wage violations, a loud wake-up call to owners of LA’s 500 carwashes. At the moment, no carwash workers are unionized. And until this recent verdict, little incentive existed for owners to treat workers well. But behind the scenes, the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, a coalition of 140 community, health, safety and labor groups in LA, has been engaging in a particularly complex process of union organizing.

Struggling Against Poverty, For Transparency

Liberty Hill is greatly dismayed about the difficulty in securing services for the poor and has supported California Partnership, a statewide coalition of more than 120 community groups, in its efforts to combat poverty.
In March 2010 CAP kicked off a statewide campaign for budget transparency at a community forum in Los Angeles funded by Liberty Hill. The 100 community members in attendance listened attentively, first to Jean Ross of California Budget Project and then to a panel of elected officials: Assemblymembers Bob Blumenfield; Hector de la Torre and Karen Bass. The community leaders were heartened when these Assemblymembers asserted their strong interest in creating a transparent budgetary process.

More on What the New Homeless Numbers Mean Or Don't Mean.

Bill Pitkin, who blogs at povertyblog.net, has more to say about yesterday's homeless numbers. Bill is a Sr. Program Officer at the Conrad Hilton Foundation and used to be United Way's numbers cruncher.

Here's an excerpt: When the 2007 numbers came out lower than 2005, a common justification was that the count became more precise as the methodology improved, implying that the earlier count wasn’t as accurate. Having been briefed on this year’s methodology, I agree that the 2009 count is the most reliable we’ve had yet. But, it still begs the question of whether we’re really seeing declines. As one news article characterizes it, “whether the drop was real or the by-product of fuzzy math in previous years, is hard to say.”

Read the whole post.

ACORN in Perspective

Liberty Hill funds ACORN's work in L.A. The ACORN L.A. office was visited by the two individuals posing as a pimp and prostitute this past July and were shown the door. We are in touch with local ACORN staff to discuss their quality control practices.

It is unfortunate the hoopla stirred up by these tapes is causing many to overlook the outstanding work ACORN has done nationally and locally. Political journalist Joe Conason weighed in this morning with a thoughtful piece on Salon.

ACORN's recent accomplishments include helping nearly 50,000 homeowners access foreclosure prevention services, playing a vital role in raising the minimum wage in six states, and leading the fight against predatory lending.

For the range of current blog-bloviating on the story, see this New York Times round up.

Go to the next page for California ACORN's September 21 response to the news.