South L.A designated a Federal Promise Zone

first_imgSeveral South Central neighborhoods surrounding the University Park campus have been designated as Promise Zones as part of the Obama administration initiative to improve quality of life and expand opportunities in under-developed areas.The South Los Angeles Transit Empowerment Zone, also known as SLATE-Z, is home to almost 200,000 residents and encompasses the neighborhoods of Exposition Park, Central Vernon, South Park, Leimert Park, Florence, Vermont Square and parts of the Crenshaw-Baldwin Hills area. These areas have been identified by the federal government as in desperate need of fiscal and community-wide assistance due to poor economic growth in recent decades. In 2014, President Obama created Promise Zones to prioritize certain disadvantaged areas for support after the 2008 recession.According to a White House press release, workforce participation in SLATE-Z is low among residents; the unemployment rate is 11.8 percent in contrast to the 5.3 percent average across California. The education of locals is also suffering, with almost half of all residents dropping out of high school, and around 45 percent of SLATE-Z residents are living at or below the poverty line, three times the national average. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti came out in support of the federal program, and described SLATE-Z as necessary for the wellbeing of South Los Angeles.“The SLATE-Z plan is rooted in strategies for ensuring physical and economic mobility for geographically and economically isolated communities,” Garcetti said in a statement. “It will succeed by building strong public and private pathways between educational and job training agencies so more students receive a high-quality education that leads to long-term educational and career success.”Yet, the Promise Zone designation was not without its controversies. In 2014, other districts of metro Los Angeles were selected to receive federal assistance during the program’s first round of designations. The neighborhoods of Pico Union, Westlake, Koreatown, Hollywood and East Hollywood saw federal grants and support directed to their community, much to the chagrin of citizens and politicians in other impoverished districts. Developments in the initial Los Angeles Promise Zone included a local STEM high school increasing its students’ college acceptance rate to UCLA and the growth of the area’s scientific and technical industries to attract high-wage job opportunities.The South Central community only won Promise Zone status after years of unsuccessful attempts, and on June 6 it was selected as one of the final nine Promise Zones, alongside cities such as Atlanta, San Diego and Nashville. Los Angeles is the only area in the program to have two zones within its city limits. Two Native-American territories were also selected for the program: the Spokane Tribe of Indians and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Councilman Curren D. Price Jr., representative of the Ninth Council District where SLATE-Z’s is primarily located, spoke on the struggle to gain eligibility for the program and to direct national attention to the impoverished neighborhoods of South Central.“This is a defining moment for South Los Angeles,” Price said. “Now, we have another tool to rewrite the South L.A. story and create the future we want for our children. The kind where one’s ZIP code or skin color does not determine the benefits or burden we bear.”Key support for the measure came from L.A. Trade Technical College President Larry Frank, who pioneered the SLATE-Z coalition to fight poverty in the area and organized multiple reapplications for Promise Zone recognition for the area. USC was also a key partner in pushing for the designation. Associate Senior Vice President of Civic Engagement and Economic Development Craig Keys spoke on the improvements to SLATE-Z neighborhoods and how they may promote change to the USC ecosystem.“The Promise Zone designation is important because it positions us to leverage new development in the area to foster local job creation and business expansion,” Keys said in a statement. “We hope the designation will help secure new and additional funding for job training, job placement and small business expansion services.  For example, our MBDA business assistance program is now better situated to extend its services through additional federal funding sources.”last_img read more

Gov’t to Shutdown ‘Bad’ Water Companies

first_imgMr. Dobayou speaking to local water producers in MonroviaThe government, through the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), is poised to institute stringent measures against producers of substandard drinking water on the Liberian market.According to the EPA, those water producers who over the years have thought it prudent to put the lives of the Liberian people at risk will no longer have the free will and space to operate. “We must comply with the standard set by the government or you will be shut down. We will no longer allow our people to be shortchanged, especially with their lives in such a way,” EPA Deputy Executive Director, Randall M. Dobayou, II told an audience of producers in Paynesville on Monday.“We want to send a bigger message out there. If you are a producer and you refused to come in compliance with the law, we will come after you,” he said.Making special statement at the opening of a two-day EPA seminar for water producers, the DED noted that most producers lack not only the requisite equipment and infrastructure, but the required technical understanding of the industry as well.The seminar is meant to train technicians of packaged drinking water producing companies in Montserrado County. It is intended to enhance the quality of water being produced by packaged water manufacturers.“What some of you produce do not meet the minimal quality of what a safe drinking water supposed to look like and this is terrible. You are harming our people,” he said.The actions of those Mr. Doubayou described as ‘bad producers’ are not only tarnishing the reputation of the industry, it is on a bigger scale putting the lives of the Liberian people in danger.“Water you produced must be tasteless, odorless and colorless. You will be close if your products do not meet even the minimal requirements,” he told the gathering.It is estimated that waterborne diseases including Typhoid, Cholera, Guinea worm, and Diarrhea killed 3.4 million people, globally, each year.It is against this backdrop, the EPA said, the training was organized to help provide technicians the necessary education and awareness to help them remove or reduce bacteria and pathogens that contaminate drinking water, in order to decrease the incidents of waterborne diseasesSome productions are done in environments that are unsafe. “This is a concern to us,” he said.“We cannot permit you to carryout production in dangerous area (near cemeteries and wetlands and areas that encourage open air degradation) that will pose threats to the lives of our people. No matter how you refine your water, it remains contaminated because the environment is not suitable.”Facilitators for the training were drawn from Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC), National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Ministry of Health, and the EPA. Participants are being lectured on how to turn ground water into fresh and safe, packaged drinking water. They are also being taught EPA’s regulation on production of packaged drinking water.EPA statistics indicate that there are about five hundred water producers nationwide, four hundred of which are in Monrovia and its immediate environs.While some of these producers endeavor to be in compliance with government’s regulations, others have refused to meet standards set and are therefore manipulating the sector. “There are many of your colleagues out there who refuse to come in compliance with government set rules and they are the ones who darken the image of the law.Ninety percent of the country’s population consumes water that is produced locally while the rest, who have the financial capabilities, consume imported water. “This means that your sector plays a cardinal role in the existence of our people and maintenance of our society.“We called you to reemphasize your role in our society and how to improve what you do. But you must be sincere to yourself, to the Liberian people and also be committed to the production high quality products,” he said.A team of inspectors will access all water producing facilities across the country to ensure that producers are in full compliance with EPA’s drinking water guidelinesHe noted that there are four recognized plastic (sachets) producers for water, but most of the products are not biodegradable, which is also a problem.“We will also go after plastics producers for the quality of plastics they produce and whether these are being sold to legitimate business people who are in compliance with the laws of the country.He said there is a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) that was signed with these producers that is being blatantly violated. “You need to abide by the MOU we signed by not selling to people who are violating our laws. If they fail to adhere to this call, we will also go after them.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more