August 26, 2021

By Cora Jackson-Fossett

Staff Writer

 

Keith Mozee believes in doing his best, regardless of the task, and that mindset paved the way for his journey from truck driver to general manager of StreetsLA, the Los Angeles city department formerly known as the Bureau of Street Services.

“I believe in doing things to the best of my ability – perseverance. Be willing to work harder than the next person. When you see something negative, respond with the positive. Do the right thing,” advocates Mozee, who has found great success by engaging these philosophies.

As executive director of one of L.A.’s most visible agencies, Mozee oversees the largest street network and urban forest in the nation.  In addition, he manages the city services that residents and businesses request on a daily basis such as filling potholes, trimming trees and repairing sidewalks.

 

Acknowledging the vastness of his duties, Mozee said, “The amount and scope of work is tremendous. StreetsLA is responsible for 23,000 lanes, miles of streets, 800 miles of alleys, 700,000 trees in the urban forest and 9,000 miles of sidewalks.”

The agency, which is comprised of 1,100+ employees, also issues permits, directs the city’s sidewalk vending program, and protects the public right of way.  Basically, said Mozee, “We make people’s lives safe through the work that we do and we’re always looking for ways to improve how we work with communities.”

Improving relationships with community members falls in line with his desire to do his best, an attitude he’s demonstrated since joining StreetsLA in 1989 after applying at a job fair held at Audubon Middle School, which happened to be his alma mater.

A native of Los Angeles, Mozee grew up in the city’s Leimert Park area.  When he stopped by the job fair, then-Mayor Tom Bradley was there along with representatives of several city departments. So, Mozee applied and was hired as a light truck operator by the bureau.

“Coming up in the bureau, I worked in various positions. I went from truck operator, where I filled a lot of potholes, then to paving crews, and then to motor sweeping. In time, I was able to promote and start running crews as a supervisor, superintendent and general superintendent,”  he recalled.

In addition, Mozee enrolled in college, completed several courses in street maintenance technology and earned a Bachelor’s degree in urban studies and planning from CSU – Northridge. 

The education boosted his career options and helped him promote to upper level jobs.  In 2016, he was appointed assistant director where he served as StreetsLA’s chief operations officer.

At that point, “doing his best” had catapulted Mozee to oversee the bureau’s Street Renewal,  Engineering, Construction Services and Emergency Operations Divisions.  He also was assigned as the Racial Equity Officer and the COVID-19 Safety Officer.  With such extensive experience, it’s no surprise that Mayor Eric Garcetti nominated him as the StreetsLA general manager and the City Council confirmed Mozee for the job on July 1.

His goals for StreetsLA include approaching infrastructure with a non-traditional viewpoint.  As he explained, “In the future, as we go into neighborhoods and areas, we’re not just going to pave the street. We’re [also] going to fix the sidewalk, prepare an access ramp and plant trees.

“We’ll also look at mobility and bus shelters as part of the sidewalk transportation program and a year or two after that, we will review our sustainability efforts.

Perhaps increase our tree planting and look at things like bio-diversity and natural wildlife in areas, which are really important to us to support.”

Workforce development is another area that Mozee will focus on.

Employees will receive more information about available educational sessions along with college courses that result in certifications or degrees. Also, with an increasing number of women serving in the field, Mozee hopes it will lead to increased diversity in the management ranks.

“We have women who are engineers, architects, motor sweeping operators, part of concrete and paving crews, and working on pothole trucks.  Gender equity is very important to us too along with racial equity, making sure that people are treated equally and fairly,” he stressed.

“We want to be transparent about training opportunities, so employees can [take advantage of] upward mobility. We also want to diversify our middle management. Although we are diverse, we can do better as far as promoting people of color and women,” noted Mozee, who also serves as an adjunct professor at L.A. Trade-Technical College. 

StreetsLA aims to add staff to the bureau as well.  The agency is authorized to have 1,500 employees, so about 400 vacancies currently exist. 

The general manager plans to work with Targeted Local Hire, an alternate job pathway into city civil service jobs that recruits individuals from the vulnerable and underserved populations, and utilize other employment strategies to expand the workforce.

One advantage of working at StreetsLA is that many entry-level positions only require a high school diploma.

“You don’t need a college degree to start at StreetsLA, except for positions like an engineer or architect.

When I started, I didn’t have a degree. I started in the labor force and worked up through management by obtaining my degree,” said the executive director, who added that some courses qualify for tuition reimbursement based on an employee’s union affiliation.

Other concerns will likely arise during Mozee’s tenure, but whatever the issue, putting forth his “best” to his staff and community members will be a guiding factor as he moves forward.

 

In fact, Mozee invites the public to communicate with StreetsLA to help the agency “give its best to your neighborhood.”

“Anyone can call 311 to request services. If you feel the need to meet and talk with us, we will meet and talk with you,” he insisted.

“We believe in meeting with different stakeholders like neighborhood councils and block clubs. Reach out [to us]. Tell us what you need and the services that you want in your neighborhood.”

To learn more, visit streetsla.org or call 311 for a service request.

Category: News

August 26, 2021

By Cora Jackson-Fossett

Staff Writer

 

The number of African Americans in Los Angeles grew by 2.9% according to the 2020 Census, which nearly mirrors the city’s 2.8% population increase over the last 10 years for a current total of 3,898,747 people in L.A.

The statistics were disclosed at a special meeting of the L.A. City Council Redistricting Commission on August 19. The commission is charged with using census data to recommend a redistricting plan that outlines the boundaries of council districts (CDs) and each area should be largely equal in population.

“This census data, together with other sources such as the American Community Survey (ACS) and the community of interest public testimony we’ve received and will receive in the future, will help inform the commission in drawing council district maps in an inclusive and transparent way for the City of Los Angeles,” said Fred Ali, chair of the Redistricting Commission.

“The mission of the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission is to make sure that all community members have fair and equal representation on the Los Angeles City Council,” he added.

 

To assist the 21 board members in fulfilling their duties, Commission Executive Director Frank Cardenas, City Demographer David Ely and Paul Mitchell of Redistricting Partners presented key findings and results from the census.

Their report noted that the majority of L.A.’s African Americans reside in four districts - CD 8 totaled 84,644 Blacks, which is 33% of the total population of 255,573 people. CD 9 summed up 32,397 Blacks, 12.7% of the district’s 254,230 inhabitants. CD 10 tallied 51,490 African Americans, 20% of the area’s 255,950.  CD 15 counted 30,307 African Americans, which is 11.7% of 258,320 residents.

The census category CVAP, Citizen Voting Age Population, cited a decrease in Black residents in 11 of the city’s 15 council districts and significant reductions in CDs 8, 9 and 10. For CDs 8, the number of African American voters equated to 75,713, which is 52.4% of the council district’s total CVAP of 144,534, CD 9 – 25,687, 24.7% of 104,088 people and CD 10 – 48,916, which is 33.3% of 146,734 total CVAP.

Populations determined by neighborhood council (NC) boundaries were also shared. Among the NCs logging the greatest increases in people were Chesterfield Square (CD 8), which grew from 6,388 to 7, 131 for 12% surge and Broadway-Manchester (CD 9), which jumped from 26,768 to 29,359 for a 10% rise. The NC list of greatest decreases included Arlington Heights (CD 10) from 21,483 to 20,188 for a 6% decline and West Adams (CD 10) from 22,925 to 21,737 for a 5% fall.

“Neighborhoods based on state law are the real building blocks of [council] districts. The real idea of redistricting is bringing communities together instead of dividing them in terms of representation and voting power,” said Mitchell, who noted that his staff will provide information on “how many neighborhoods are kept whole, how many are split and whether it’s split multiple times” during the process of proposing new district boundaries.

Also, the census data will be updated to incorporate 90,000 people in the prison population, whose numbers will be added to the neighborhoods where they were living before incarceration.

The L.A. City Council Redistricting Commission will hold a series of public meetings to solicit input from residents about resources, desires, histories and experiences that impact and define their neighborhoods. The board includes Charisse Bremond-Weaver, the Rev. Eddie Anderson and Valerie Lynne Shaw, who have mounted a campaign to persuade Blacks to participate in the process to help ensure inclusive representation, secure needed assets, and maintain a strong community.

The next public hearing is set for Saturday, August 28, at 10 a.m. where the commission will hear testimony focused on Council District 10.  To attend via Zoom, visit https://bit.ly/LACCRCZoom or https://zoom.us/join; Meeting ID No. 161 545 4787.

The public can also listen and participate in the meeting by calling (669) 254-5252 or toll free at (833) 568-8864. Use Meeting ID No. 161 545 4787, press #, and press # again when prompted for participant ID.

For more information on the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission, visit https://laccrc2021.org/

Category: News

August 26, 2021

LAWT News Service

 

Los Angeles City Council­members unanimously voted to adopt an antiracist framework in the City of Los Angeles, calling the motion a long overdue response to generational inequities that perpetuate racial disparities across City services and the region at-large. 

“As leaders of a city as diverse as Los Angeles, it is our responsibility to ensure the equitable distribution of city services and resources. But in order to do that, we must have the tools in place to effectively examine the ways in which we have unwittingly fallen short. Only when we are clear on our flaws, can we course-correct,” said Councilmember Ridley-Thomas.

Introduced by Councilmembers Mark Ridley-Thomas, Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, the “Antiracism motion” calls upon the Civil and Human Rights + Equity Department to produce a Racial Equity Audit of City programs, policies and practices; and to develop a plan that addresses barriers to economic stability, specifically among African Americans.

"For generations, the saying, ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ has been used as a wholly inadequate instruction. Local institutions and businesses hindered and denied African Americans and others ­participation in employment, housing, and opportunity in everyday life through legislation and policy. The strategic deployment of racism through acts and mandates is the most significant loss of social capital and innovation across sectors that Americans have ever known, and still need to remedy. Today in Los Angeles, this motion is foundational and ignites the way for change," said Councilmember Harris-Dawson.

“We have reached a critical turning point and if we are ever to reconcile with the past wrongdoings done to the Black community and tackle race relations, it is our duty to push for measures that ensure there is a more equitable and fair distribution of services that addresses systemic inequities to erase color-lines,” said Councilman Curren Price. “We cannot sit back and watch history continue to repeat itself. We want to put an end to the cycle here and now.”

“I want to thank Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas and the co-authors of this motion for taking bold action on racial equity. LA Civil Rights is grateful for the opportunity to support this important work,” said Capri Maddox, Executive Director of the city’s Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department, also known as LA Civil Rights. “Systemic racism didn’t come out of thin air - it came from centuries of policies that separated Black communities from their wealth, their health and their freedom. But just as our country designed a system of inequality, we can also build a future of inclusion and justice - and Los Angeles is showing the way.”

Earlier this summer,  Mayor Garcetti signed Executive Directive 27 to establish a Racial Equity Task Force within the Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department, and pushed forth the formation of the Mayors Organized for Reparations and Equity (MORE) coalition which aims to support federal reparations legislation, establish advisory commissions in their respective cities, and work toward developing and implementing reparations demonstration programs targeted to a pilot group of Black Americans in their communities. The motion builds on this work by codifying Executive Directive 27 into law in the City of Los Angeles.

“There is no question that work remains to close the racial gaps that exist in our country when it comes to wealth, health, and education,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “The motion builds on the equity work we’re doing in Los Angeles, and I’m proud to work alongside Councilmembers who are committed to confronting structural racism and fulfilling America’s promise to all its people.”

The motion attracted an outpouring of support from the community and local leaders including:

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President, April Verrett.

“We can no longer just talk about equity, we must practice equity. More than ever we need policies that address the systemic and structural barriers that keep people of color from thriving. This motion to Establish an Antiracist Los Angeles is a critical step forward in the journey to ensure our city is a place where all of us have the opportunity to flourish.” 

“A Racial Equity audit of the city's government and structures is needed now more than ever as we move as a city and a people from moral imagination to action. Now is the time to not only confess our sin of racism as a city, as so many did during the pandemic, but to grapple with the hard truth that the path to justice runs through equity for Black communities and communities of color across this city who have been perpetually and systematically left out of resources and advancement, this motion moves us one step closer to a more  just and equitable Los Angeles and builds upon the hard work and reports of community,” said McCarty Memorial Christian Church Senior Pastor, Edward Anderson.

“One human's despair is all humans' despair - one human's joy is all humans' joy - one human's accomplishments are all humans’ accomplishments. Such should be the genuine thinking of a civilized and conscientious human, if there is to be peace and harmony in the world.  Human progress isn't measured by industry, it's measured by the value you put on a life, said Brotherhood Crusade President and CEO, Charisse Bredmond Weaver. “The Establishing an Antiracist Los Angeles motion introduced by Councilmembers Ridley-Thomas, Price and Harris-Dawson fully embodies this Abhijit Naskar quote and, more importantly, moves the City ever so much closer to a just, productive, inclusive and harmonious society.  I commend the Councilmembers for their work and strongly encourage the City Council to not only adopt the motion but to also integrate its spirit and tenets throughout the City’s infrastructure.”

Category: News

August 19, 2021

LAWT News Service

 

In an unprecedented display of unity, Black members of Congress lead by Karen Bass, local elected officials lead by Supervisor Holly Mitchell along with Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, and representatives of the California Legislative Black Caucus have organized themselves to oppose the September 14 Right Wing Recall. This dynamic group will focus specifically on ensuring Black voters turn out to vote, and vote ‘No’.

For the first time in a generation, Black Los Angeles’ political leaders unanimously agree on how the Gubernatorial Recall will hurt Black people. 

“When I secured fifty million dollars for Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science and tens of millions for CSU Dominguez Hills and MLK Hospital, I knew some people would be envious.

I never would have imagined they would try to overthrow democracy in California,” said Assemblyman Mike Gipson. 

“We’ve made so much progress in the last year toward a more equitable California. That's why it was imperative all Black officials were clear in speaking with one voice about the dire implications of a Gubernatorial Recall,” said Senator Sydney Kamlager.

The unprecedented effort is being coordinated with one of the state’s longest standing civic empowerment organizations, the African American Voter Registration, Education, and Participation Project (AAVREP). The campaign will focus on African American voters in Los Angeles County and beyond who need to be informed about this important election. 

“We are not leaving any voter behind,” said Assemblyman Gipson. 

“We take nothing for granted. As ballots arrive, we want everyone to know to vote ‘NO,’ seal the ballot, and immediately return it in the mail. The postage is prepaid,” said Senator Kamlager.

Black voters are the front line of democracy and just as they saved American democracy on 2020, the same task is in front of this community in California in 2021.

AAVREP is one of the largest organized efforts to register African American and urban voters in the country. Over 21 years, AAVREP has registered more than 400,000 voters and regularly mobilized nearly 375,000 households via telephone and door-to-door canvasing. AAVREP focuses on highlighting the importance of the African American vote utilizing culturally competent education and outreach strategies.

Category: News

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