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Councilman Bernard Parks speaks with 2UrbanGirls

Councilmember Bernard Parks has been employed with the City of Los Angeles for nearly 50 years.  Parks served for 37 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, and became the cities 52nd Police Chief.  Serving in his last term as the 8th District councilman, Parks discusses hot button issues along with what is next when his term expires in 2015.  Thank you again Councilman Parks for the interview.

First, can you provide a little insight as to where the medical dispensary issue is in the City of LA? (Can you provide a list of those grandfathered in)

THE CURRENT MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARY ISSUE IN UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE RECENTLY PASSED CITY INITIATIVE ” MEASURE D. THE MEASURE ALLOWS A SPECIFIC NUMBER OF DISPENSARIES WHICH WERE IN PLACE PRIOR TO A SPECIFIC DATE TO REMAIN OPEN. THE CITY ATTORNEY IS AGGRESSIVELY NOTIFYING NON-COMPLAINT DISPENSARIES TO CEASE OPERATIONS OR FACE PROSECUTION.

FOR MORE SPECIFIC INFORMATION  GO TO THE CITY’S WEB-PAGE : LACITY.ORG , SELECT CITY GOVERNMENT , SELECT COUNCIL FILE, THIS WILL LAUNCH CITY CLERK CONNECT , SELECT COUNCIL FILE MANAGEMENT THEN INCERT “MEDICAL MARIJUANA ” . THIS WILL PRODUCE OVER 100 FILES WHICH PROVIDE THE RECENT CITY HISTORY , SINCE 2010 , OF THE ENTIRE MEDICAL MARIJUANA ISSUE. ALSO , ANY REAL OR PERCEIVED VIOLATIONS OF THE VOTER APPROVED MEASURE “D” SHOULD BE REPORTED TO EMAIL:  ATTY.MEDICALMARIJUANA@LACITY.ORG

As a former law enforcement official, how did you adjust to life as a politician, where facing criticism is a big part of the job?

THE TRANSITION FROM AN APPOINTED POSITION TO A ELECTED POSITION HAS BEEN VERY SMOOTH AS BOTH ARE PUBLIC SERVICE. IT IS A VERY HONORABLE CALLING TO BE A PUBLIC SERVANT AND GUARD THE PUBLIC’S TRUST. CRITICISM IS A BIG PART OF MOST JOBS OR PROFESSIONS. UNDERSTANDING THAT IS A SIGNIFICANT FIRST STEP. MAINTAINING YOUR INDIVIDUAL VALUES , PRINCIPALS , INTEGRITY AND OBJECTIVITY IS THE BEST COURSE TO TO ENSURE THE ONGOING GOAL IS PUBLIC SERVICE AND NOT SELF SERVICE.

What were your thoughts on the recent ruling on freedom of speech re: Zuma Dogg v City of LA?

THE OUTCOME OF THE CITY’S RECENT LITIGATION WAS PREDICTABLE. THE COURTS HAVE RULED FOR A LONG PERIOD THAT FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS PROTECTED PARTICULARLY, IN A LEGISLATIVE PUBLIC FORUM . STANDARDS OF DECORUM IN EVERYDAY SOCIETY DO NOT GOVERN FREE SPEECH..

How many socks where you able to contribute towards Councilman Wesson’s project?

I DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN COUNCILMEMBER JOE BUSCAINO’S CD# 15′ S SOCK CONTRIBUTION EFFORTS..

What are the top (3) periodicals you read on a daily basis, and why?

ON A DAILY BASIS I READ 4 TO 5 NEWS PAPERS , GOVERNING MAGAZINE & CAPITAL ALERT TO REMAIN CURRENT AND ASSESS ISSUES THAT MIGHT IMPACT MY DISTRICT OR THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES 

Two offspring, of a former and current L.A. County supervisor, are both running for State Assembly.  Do you have any advice for either of them?

NO.

The auto training repair center on Crenshaw Blvd has been closed for several years.  Has there been any efforts to restore this vital job training center for the community through partnerships with either LA Urban League or Brotherhood Crusade?

THE TOYOTA / URBAN LEAGUE PARTNERSHIP WAS A VERY SUCCESSFUL EFFORT TO PROVIDE JOB TRAINING AND FUTURE EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES. UNFORTUNATELY, WHEN IT CLOSED THERE WAS A SIGNIFICANT VOID CREATED. CURRENTLY THE LAUSD HAS PURCHASED THE FACILITY AND IS CURRENTLY REFURBISHING IT. IT IS MY UNDERSTANDING THAT LAUSD IS DEVELOPING A TRAINING CENTER CONCEPT TO BE IMPLEMENTED IN THE NEAR FUTURE..

What are your greatest accomplishments during your terms on City Council?

GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS HAS BEEN :

A) CREATION OF CITY BUDGET POLICIES

B) GUIDE THE BUDGET PROCESS DURING THE RECESSION

C) CREATION OF SEVERAL SIGNATURE EVENTS E.G. MLK FESTIVAL, CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING IN LEIMERT PARK , TOY GIVEAWAY AT BALDWIN HILL SHOPPING CENTER, STAR YOUTH PROGRAM, JULY 4THFIREWORKS AND JAZZ FESTIVAL.

D) OVER A BILLION DOLLARS OF RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT

E) INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS E.G. STREETS, SIDEWALKS, TREE TRIMMING  AND ALLEY ENHANCEMENTS

F) GATEWAY AND COMMUNITY SIGNAGE

G) OBTAINING THE $40M CITY FUNDING FOR THE LEIMERT STATION

H) AUTHORING MEASURE L TO RESTORE LIBRARIES TO FULL STAFFING

*NOT A ALL INCLUSIVE LIST 

On A Mission is a nonprofit, you advocate and support, which aims to keep kids out of gangs and has also purchased a property to house foster children.  How did you become involved with the organization and how do you measure it’s success?  

On a Mission ” is a non-profit organization , under the leadership of Mr. Edwin Henderson that specializes in prevention and intervention activities for our communities’ youth. They have been a community resource for my office for several years.  They have provided some unique and varied experiences for youth e.g. Visit to our nations capital Washington D.C., Tour of San Quentin Prison , Support of a local music academy. The small financial donations of  support from my office is money well spent.

8th District map (photo: BernardParks.com)

8th District map (photo: BernardParks.com)

What are your thoughts on the uproar in Leimert Park?  From business owners possibly having to vacate to the desire to have Metro tunnel the portion of the Crenshaw/LAX line through Park Mesa.  

I FULLY SUPPORT THE CRENSHAW LIGHT RAIL LINE PROJECT. THE CONSTRUCTION PROCESS HAS TO BE SENSITIVE TO THE COMMUNITY’S NEEDS E.G. NOISE, TRAFFIC CONGESTION, LOCAL HIRING, ETC . I PERSONALLY ENSURED THE LINE STARTED UNDERGROUND AT EXPOSITION, REMAINED UNDERGROUND PASSED VERNON, ADDED THE FULLY FUNDED LEIMERT PARK STATION AND RETURNED BELOW GRADE SOUTH OF SLAUSON AVE. THE ONE AREA THAT WAS NOT ACHIEVED WAS THE UNDER GROUNDING BETWEEN 52ND AND 59th STREETS. THIS DECISION WAS A MATTER OF COST WHICH WERE BEYOND THE SCOPE OF THE PROJECT. I BELIEVE THE BALDWIN HILL SHOPPING CENTER AND LIEMERT PARK WILL BE THE BIGGEST BENEFICIARIES OF THIS RAIL SYSTEM. I AM UNAWARE OF ANY LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE BUSINESSES HAVING TO VACATE DUE TO THIS PROJECT..

Much controversy surrounded the LA County Supervisor race and the failed development at Marlton Square.  Can you explain, in your own words, your involvement in the process and why you were blamed for the project not moving forward?

“The Marlton Square Project debacle was covered extensively in my 11/28/2013 ENEWS .

During the 2008 Supervisor’s campaign I was blamed by my opponent for my failure to move the Marlton Square Project forward .This was done as a ploy by my opponent to deny his culpability for single handedly stalling this project for over 20 years. The below ENEWS entry and link to a 1998 LA Weekly article tells the true story, its background and clearly identifies those responsible and culpable for the current demise of the plans to build a commercial project on the Marlton property.

Read with interest the following:

Uncovering the Marlton Square Riddle…   It’s amazing what happens when you go back in history and reflect on how a certain turn of events dictate how things ultimately turn out. Just last weekend, a group at the Baldwin Hills Homeowners Association asked me the most frequently asked question in the Eighth District since I was elected. “Why hasn’t Marlton Square(Santa Barbara Plaza) been rebuilt?

This in depth LA Weekly article from 1998 explains why http://www.laweekly.com/1998-05-28/news/councilman-fouls-magic.  The self interest of then Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas over the public’s interest could not be more clearly documented. These same facts are validated by council votes and time lines in L.A. City Council and Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) files. History shows us that the apparent ill-advised power play of leveraging the Marlton Square Project to garner support for an National Football League team coming to the Los Angeles Coliseum cost the community and its residents both deals. Currently, there is no NFL team at the Coliseum, and there is not one in our city. The 1998 version of the Marlton Square proposed project also never materialized.

Before leaving the city council in 2002, Ridley-Thomas personally  turned the Marlton Square Project over  to a developer of ill repute. The developer’s financial deception led to an eight-plus-year odyssey that resulted in  foreclosure and, eventually, bankruptcy.   My office identified the many problems with the deal and the developer. We were instrumental in pulling the project out of bankruptcy and brokered the deal that led Kaiser-Permanente to bring a 200,00 square-foot facility to the location that will cover eight of the 20 acres of  land.

Poor public policy decisions have followed Mark Ridley-Thomas’ political career. Just to name a few- during this same period: he advocated and strongly supported for the closure of Martin Luther King Hospital’s trauma center and emergency room in a community that by far lead the county in emergency and trauma needs. He subsequently promised it would be reopened in two years.

THE COMMUNITY IS STILL WAITING.

Years earlier, he responded to the 1992 riot devastation, the burning of several city blocks on Vermont Avenue between 81th Street and Manchester Boulevard by giving the exclusive development  rights to a major developer for several years who failed to initiate any proposed improvements, entitlements or construction prior to the expiration of the exclusive development agreement. This 11-acre burned-out parcel of land remained vacant until L.A. County spent $100 million on constructing a 200,000 square-foot facility well after Ridley-Thomas left the city council.

Finally , he compounded his initial miscalculation in failing to get an NFL team to the Coliseum by recently advocating and voting to turn over the Coliseum and Sports Arena to the University of Southern California(USC) for free. The community nor the public agencies who built, maintained, refurbished and managed these facilities with your local, state and federal tax dollars received nothing in return for their investments. The L.A. Times has published a series of articles on a judge’s decision that the Coliseum-USC deal, “violated open meeting law”and is lopsided in favor of the university (Read Links Below).    http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-coliseum-commission-20130914,0,2002953.story#axzz2lnQYJIOo
http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-coliseum-lawsuit-20131005,0,4881842.story#axzz2lnQYJIOo
http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-coliseum-lawsuit-20131005,0,4881842.story#axzz2lnQYJIOo

These are just a few of many examples of poor public policy and the negative impacts on the community and tax paying public. Maybe one day the community will remember to hold those accountable for past indiscretions.   Winning elections doesn’t prove anything. It’s what you do when you’re in office that counts. And, while a $700,000 office renovation and NFL Football tickets on the public dime are nice perks, they should not stand alone as the hallmarks of a political career.”

Finally, 2UrbanGirls has noticed you in the news more frequently, for a person who is set to leave office.  What’s next for Bernard Parks?

I WIIL RETIRE FROM PUBLIC LIFE 6/30/2015 AFTER 50 YEARS OF SERVICE WITH THE CITY

To sign up for Councilman Parks newsletters, visit his website by clicking here.

 

 


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