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La Jornada > Cobertura de "La otra campaña"

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Rage One (blog)

miércoles, agosto 20, 2008

More Than A Building Burns in Pomona

From the Community Congress: Here are two op/eds from the Daily Bulletin that denounce the recent burning of the former community center at 1041 S. White Ave.08-06-08

More Than A Building Burns in Pomona

The Pomona city council recently allowed the fire department to burn down a 22,000 square foot building that the local community in south Pomona had, over the past seven years, used as a computer learning lab, alternative school and youth center. While Mayor Torres offered the excuse that the building was blighted for burning it, there is a much deeper symbolism to be found here: Our local government conveys a distinct disdain for its own community.

In the case of the burnt-down building, members of the local community had independently bought this four-acre site—then lost it to the City in a legal battle. Imagine local residents trying to do something positive for their neighborhood in south Pomona, where violence and poverty are pervasive, only to be slapped down by the city’s elected officials. You would immediately ask, “Why would they discourage community involvement? Isn’t that what you want?!”

At a time when the city government flirts with economic bankruptcy, their message is clear, “We’re in charge, so stay out of our business.” But voters need to start asking, do these people really know what they are doing? In just the last six months the ‘Starbucks building’ at Mission and Garey defaulted, and the City had to step in to buy it, in order to save their initial tax dollar giveaway that got the site built. Several buildings in the downtown were demolished to pave the way for a project that the mayor claimed would “turn Pomona around”—that project is now dead and we have a sink-hole in its place! The Dodge- Chrysler dealership at the south Pomona auto center is now empty—that project was initially built with a three million dollar subsidy financed by the taxpayer.

But there is a method to all this madness. In each case, we have rich developers who come seeking welfare payments in order to build something. Council members promote these projects, even when basic math tells you they won’t work. These projects, however, do generate campaign contributions from developers for our needy politicians. The burning of the community center, for instance, now paves the way for the City Council to make another deal with developers—hey, its election time!
Yes, there is plenty of symbolism here. From a Buddhist parable: “The house is burning, and the children are inside unaware of the fire.” Pomona is burning…will someone respond?

Tomas Ursua 07-29-08


Outrageous! Pomona Mayor Norma Torres justifies allowing the Fire Dept. to burn down a former independent community center on S. White Ave. for practice! She sites the building being blighted as an excuse—maybe that’s because the building was severely vandalized during the eight months that the City left it unsecured and unsupervised! The truth of the matter is that prior to the City evicting the non-profit organization managing the site, the building had been almost entirely re-plastered by the Plasterers’ Union apprenticeship program, and over two hundred thousand dollars in materials and more in volunteer labor had been invested to improve the building.

I can attest, as a volunteer there over the past seven years, that the building provided a vast array of services to the local community, all with out the help of our pompous City Council. While the Council pretended to be working on a Youth Master Plan for the past four years, that community center provided computer classes, an independent school, and in its final year, a teen center where hundreds of local Pomona youth organized peaceful music venues.

What happened to the council’s promise to create a youth center for Pomona’s youth? They just burnt down a potential site! Now, they’ll demolish the building and then make a sweetheart deal with their chosen developer friends, which will generate campaign contributions when they run for office. That’s the way things work in Pomona. By the way, I hope the voters remember this act of hypocrisy in November when Norma Torres, George Hunter, Paula Lantz and Stephen Atchley (all members of the council that allowed this building to be burned down) will be running to get elected again.

Tina Mata

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