By Veronica Mackey
A team of young Inglewood residents and workers at Chuco’s Justice Center educated the public about the issues affecting youth at Tuesday’s meeting. There were kudos all around for the center, which is changing lives.
Chuco’s has a continuation high school and a host of programs and services, including a free legal clinic, transportation assistance, counseling and assistance for ex-felons. Kids come to the center with addictions, problems with the law, school, family, and lack of resources.
Recently, some residents complained about youth at the center smoking marijuana and being disrespectful. A therapist at the center said, “We have a culture where adults walk away and I would prefer for adults to start stepping back into children’s lives. There are other ways to solve problems. A lot of young people are abused, broken-hearted. They’ve seen a lot of death. A lot of our young people are so hurt and so angry and so damaged that they do act out. The center is looking for ways to heal these young people so they can be good citizens.”
“(Chuco’s offers) record clearing, clearing people tickets. Kids are ticketed for tardiness,
A lot of youth cannot get on the bus or train because they can’t afford it. We have the Welcome Home program for people who were recently released from jail,” a youth organizer said.
Another worker said she “sought out” the center because “it’s incredible, and a service we are all lucky to have. We have a lot of activity because there are a lot of youth in the area. We are working to provide a safe environment. I can’t imagine Inglewood without it.”
An emotional 69 year-old man who had been in penitentiary 45 years shared his transformative story of how he was helped by the program: “They embraced me and they trusted me, and they weren’t intimidated by me. Now, I am working to keep guys out of prison. I tell them, ‘No matter how bitter and angry you are, do not self-destruct.’ In 2 ½ years, (it) will be the first time I’ll be off parole in my adult life.”
“You have our great respect,” Mayor James Butts said.
“This is what Inglewood should be about,” Gil Matheiu said.
Chuco’s is hosting a community open house on Thursday, July 24 from 6 to 8pm at 1137 E. Redondo Blvd. “Come see what we do. Nothing speaks louder than that,” a woman said. For more information call (323) 490-0601.
Councilman George Dotson recalled his experience at the Chuco Center: “I will be back again. They are doing a wonderful job.”
“These kids are scraping. They need our love and they need our support. I am angry about what the U.S. has done to our youth especially our black and brown youth,” Aldene Sligh said.
Sligh wants the council to donate part of their salary to the youth center.
“Why not all of it? Why stop there?” the mayor said. “No one should demagogue someone, and say ‘you should do this.’ You shouldn’t decide if they don’t (do what you want) they are bad people. I donate significant amounts of money to various causes. You don’t know what we do. I have no shame about what I have. I’m blessed to make the money I do. I never turn myself away from anyone at 7-Eleven. But for the grace of God, go I.”
Public Works Director Louis Atwell recommended that assessment levies remain unchanged for the Morningside Park, In-Town, Darby-Dixon, and Street Lighting Assessment Districts for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. The council supported requests for all assessments.
Some residents wanted a detailed report of the types of maintenance being done within each of the districts. There was concern that the maintenance work force has been reduced. However, Ethel Austin said she sees a lot of work being done regardless. Speaking to Atwell, Austin said:
“You have done a wonderful job in the little time you’ve been here and your staff works 24 hours. A lot that is being done is being done around the clock. It’s not about how many people work here, but getting the job done. I must say those trees look very nice down Manchester.”
Councilman Eloy Morales said “the City has been subsidizing these assessment districts for a number of years, so that actually needs to be updated. While the assessment districts have been done annually, they do not cover the expenses as to what is being done.”
“Some of you are asking for a detailed description of what they’re doing out there, but not all of our streets are in disrepair and not all of our plants look like weeds. I agree we need to take another look at these assessments but the work is being done,” Councilman Alex Padilla said.
Councilman Ralph Franklin said some services are being done multiple times a week, such as lighting and street sweeping. Residents in Dotson’s District 1 and Ralph Franklin’s District 4 will get an additional $1 million for street resurfacing.
City Manager Artie Fields reported that building permits this quarter have doubled over the last year.
Dotson asked the public for patience as the City turns around. I’ve been on this council for a little over a year and I’m amazed at what we’ve been able to do.”
Morales used part of his closing remarks to acknowledge the article about Inglewood, published last week in the Los Angeles Business Journal. “The (Journal) doesn’t just go into any city and tell the entire nation how good you’ve done. You can’t stop the city from doing what it’s doing.”
Butts read an excerpt from the LABJ article. “Inglewood has not been a prime destination….but Inglewood is making a turnaround.” This is the top business journal in the country that made us the feature story. It comes to a point when you have to give it up and say, ‘Gosh they are doing something right.’”