December 04, 2014

 

By Danny J. Bakewell Jr. 

Executive Editor 

By Kenneth D. Miller 

Assistant Managing Editor 

 

 

William T. Fujioka began his dynamic civic career as a custodian in Santa Clara in 1972 and between the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County rose through the ranks to become its most important figure through a career that spanned some four decades.

 

Affectionately known simply as ‘Bill’ by friends and colleagues, he officially retired from the county as chief financial officer on November 30.

 

Fujioka leaves an enormous legacy and giant shoes to fill. He was instrumental in transforming the predominantly white male county into one that reflects its actual diversity: Blacks, women and people of color.

 

He was responsible for 37 departments, 30 of which reported directly to him. He also managed the county’s 27 billion dollar budget.

 

“I am very proud that when I came here I was able to appoint African Americans and people of color as department heads and thus they too feel responsible for doing the same,” Fujioka told the Sentinel.

 

Those departments include human resources, consumer affairs, the department of public works and veteran affairs.

 

Fujioka was born and raised in Los Angeles County and became a public administrator there. He was its Chief Executive Officer since July 2007. He implemented the new governance structure and was responsible with executive authority over most county departments and operations.

 

As CEO he was responsible for managing the largest county in the nation (over 10 million residents) with over 100,000 employees; and responsible for countywide policy and program leadership — from health and social services to public safety, community and municipal services to recreation/culture and the arts.

 

Since he first came to the county in 1978 he held various positions.  He was an examinations analyst, civil service appeals analyst, personnel officer, and administrator in the Department of Health Services, including administrator and chief executive officer of High Desert Hospital/Antelope Valley Cluster.  He left the County in 1997 to become general manager of the Personnel Department for the city of Los Angeles serving in this capacity for two years.  In August 1999, he was named Los Angeles' City Administrative Officer and served for eight years in that capacity before retiring.  After a brief retirement, he was appointed by the Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors as the first Chief Executive Officer in July 2007.

 

He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology (Social Research) from the University of California, Santa Cruz, 1970-1974, and graduated Cum Laude.  He is married to Darlene Kuba and has one son (Jason, who is in college). Darlene worked for the late City Councilman Gil Lindsay.

 

During the recession, he guided the county without any layoffs, furloughs or major deductions.

 

“Financial stability is the big thing. During the recession we were able to get two bond rating increases and that’s unheard of,” he said.

 

He also was instrumental in the reopening of Martin Luther King Hospital in Watts, and built a dozen libraries.

 

Now, as he begins his retirement he wants to focus on seniors and will be committing his time and resources to organizations that aid the elderly.

Category: News

November 27, 2014

 

By Kenneth D. Miller 

Assistant Managing Editor

 

 

 

Former Washington, District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry long recognized for being video taped while smoking crack cocaine, but who also will leave a lasting legacy for his commitment to his Black constituents has died. He was 78 years old.

 

Barry was arrested in an FBI sting operation and served six months in federal prison, but was still reelected to the City Council in 1992 and then as mayor in 1994 and served until 1999.

 

Despite his history of political and legal controversies, Barry was a popular and influential figure in the local political scene of Washington, D.C., being hailed as "Mayor for life," a designation that remained long after Barry left the mayoralty.

 

During the 1960s, he was involved in Nashville Student Movement protest of racial discrimination and later became the first chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

 

He was the first prominent civil rights activist to become chief executive of a major American city and this week the president, Congress­woman Maxine Waters and Sentinel Publisher Danny J. Bakewell Sr, who knew Barry, fondly remembered him.

 

“Michelle and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Marion Barry. Marion was born a sharecropper's son, came of age during the Civil Rights movement, and became a fixture in D.C. politics for decades. As a leader with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Marion helped advance the cause of civil rights for all. During his decades in elected office in D.C., he put in place historic programs to lift working people out of poverty, expand opportunity, and begin to make real the promise of home rule. Through a storied, at times tumultuous life and career, he earned the love and respect of countless Washingtonians, and Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathies to Marion's family, friends and constituents,” said President Obama in a statement.

 

Barry gave the presidential nomination speech for Jesse Jackson at the 1984 Democratic National Con­vention.

 

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Marion Barry, a longtime friend and a man who helped transform the city of Washington, D.C.,” said Waters.

 

“As a young man, Barry was a civil rights leader who championed the rights of Washington’s often overlooked residents. He rose to become one of the most influential politicians in District of Columbia history, serving four terms as mayor, 15 years as councilmember and president of the Board of Education.

 

“Mayor Barry will always be remembered for the most expansive youth jobs program in the United States, where summer employment was guaranteed for every school-age resident. I will always fondly remember beating Marion handedly on the tennis court, and our many warm interactions over the years. My thoughts and deepest condolences go out to his son Christopher, and the entire Barry family at this time.”

 

Bakewell Sr., a civil rights leader who fought for racial equality along with Barry was saddened by his loss.

 

National Newspapers Publishers Association President Benjamin Chavis credited Barry with the success of he 1995 Million Man March, which was held in the nation’s capital.

 

“The Honorable Marion Barry was a freedom fighting mayor of D.C. He was the best mayor of our nation’s capitol, ever,” said Chavis. “We mourn his passing, but celebrate what it means to be a freedom fighter for African American people and all African people.”

 

“Marion was truly a man for all seasons. He had some dark days, but was always resilient. While he may be remembered as Mayor for Life, he surely was a champion of the people for life and he understood the struggle of Black people and was committed to sacrifice for their advancement. He was my friend and I will miss him,” said Bakewell.

Category: News

November 27, 2014

 

City News Service 

 

Scattered protests broke out earlier this week in various portions of the Los Angeles area in response to a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to charge a white police officer for the shooting death of an 18-year-old black man. There were no reports of arrests or violence. Between 50 and 100 protesters began marching north from Leimert Park on Monday night where people had been waiting for news about whether a grand jury would indict Ferguson, Missouri, Officer Darren Wilson for the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, KCAL9 reported.

 

Some people in the park reacted with tears.

 

“It seems like it is never going to come around where communities of color even matter,” Leisette Rodriguez of Long Beach told the Los Angeles Times.

 

A heavy contingent of firefighters and police officers and about five helicopters followed the progress of the protesters, trying to clear the way for them. About 50 protesters briefly tried to get on the Santa Monica (10) Freeway shouting, “Shut it down! Shut it down!” according to KCAL. However, a number of California Highway Patrol officers quickly chased them from the freeway.

 

A group of protesters shut down the intersection of La Brea Avenue and Venice Boulevard for a few minutes, Fox11 reports. Protesters outside the Los Angeles Police Department's Homer F. Broome Jr. Southwest Community Police Station shouted, “Death to killer cops,” the Los Angeles Times reported. A group of protesters laid down on Wilshire Boulevard in front of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, shouting at times, “No justice, no peace,” with one carrying a sign, “One Solution Revolution,” Fox11 reported.

 

At least two of the protesters wore yarmulkes, the skullcaps worn by some observant Jews. There were also protests in other portions of South Los Angeles, the

 

Wilshire district and Westwood. The Los Angeles Police Department went on a citywide tactical alert in advance of the announcement of the grand jury’s decision, allowing them to keep officers on duty beyond their normal shifts.

 

Southland community leaders and elected officials had pleaded for calm. In a statement issued from Asia where he is on a trade mission, Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “Michael Brown’s death has ignited deep passions across the nation, and Los Angeles is no exception.

 

“Tonight’s decision is one that will be heatedly debated — but we should do so through dialogue and peaceful action. City departments are nmobilized to assist in the exercise of peaceful protest.”

 

Los Angeles County Sheriff-elect Jim McDonnell urged “those who may be disappointed by today’s decision to nonetheless respect the outcome and processes of our legal system.”

 

“The greatness of our nation comes from our ability to come together peacefully and lawfully, to speak up about what is on our minds and to respect one another,” McDonnell said.

 

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said he understood the strong feelings surrounding the decision.

 

“Here in Los Angeles, although we still have much to do, we’ve come far in building trust between those who enforce our laws and the communities they serve,” Feuer said.

 

“It is even more important today to continue that focus, working constructively together toward a society that is safe, just and fair for everyone.”

 

Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, lamented “the grand jury’s decision not to indict (Wilson) for the senseless death of a young unarmed man.”

 

“As immigrants seeking to be part of the American Dream, we painfully realize the dream for other U.S. citizens is also short-handed, outright denied and fraught with injustice. Life, liberty and justice still needs to be guaranteed for all citizens.”

 

Salas urged the public to use its “anger and disillusionment” as impetus to “continue fighting for justice and equality for all.”

 

Members of some community groups, including the Coalition for Community Control Over the Police, the Youth Justice Coalition and the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, indicated previously they would likely stage a protest at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards.

 

“LAPD will facility peaceful demonstrations and will allow your voices (to) be heard,” Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck wrote on his Twitter account this afternoon in advance of the announcement.

Category: News

November 20, 2014

 

City News Service 

 

Southland immigrant-rights groups this week were anxiously awaiting specifics of President Barack Obama’s plans to take executive action on immigration, which is likely to protect millions of people living in the country illegally from deportation. Obama was scheduled to deliver a nationwide address on the topic at 5 p.m. Thursday, then rally support for his proposal at a Friday morning event in Las Vegas. Members of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles will be holding a watch party for both events at the group’s office.

 

After the president's Thursday address, a group of activists will board a bus bound for Las Vegas so they can attend his event in person. They also plan to rally at Los Angeles City Hall following the president’s Friday event. The White House has not released any specifics of the executive order. In a video posted on the White House Facebook page, saying he is taking action because Congress “has allowed the problem to fester for far too long.”

 

“And so what I’m going to be laying out is the things that I can do with my lawful authority as president to make the system work better, even as I continue to work with Congress to encourage them to get a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem,” he said.

 

The president’s action is likely to protect from deportation the parents of children who are U.S. citizens, affecting as many as 4 million immigrants -provided they do not have criminal records. Media reports out of Washington indicated that other portions of the president’s action will protect another 1 million immigrants from deportation.

 

“We have worked hard, paid taxes and have unfairly suffered the scourge of deportations and family separation,” said Carlos Vaquerano, executive director of the Salvadoran American Leadership and Education Fund in Los Angeles. “Millions of us have started families in this great nation that we love and now call home. We are the parents of U.S. citizens and we deserve the right to live normal lives.”

 

Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar said the fear of deportation has been “an unconscionable burden” for millions of immigrants.

 

“As immigrants, my family and I were fortunate to receive U.S. residency after the birth of my brother here in the U.S. under a policy that no longer exists, otherwise we might’ve been torn apart as a family,” Huizar said. “...Separating families goes against everything this great country stands for. While comprehensive immigration reform is the ultimate goal, the president’s anticipated actions will help keep families together.”

 

Republican leaders in Wash­ington, including House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, has said congressional progress on immigration has stalled due to the GOP belief that Obama will fail to enforce whatever laws are enacted.

 

“It is sad and disappointing that — faced with this challenge — President Obama won’t work with us, but is instead intent on going it alone with executive orders that can’t and won’t fix these problems,” Boehner said.

 

Boehner and other Republicans have vowed to attempt to overturn whatever action the president takes.

 

“If ‘Emperor Obama’ ignores the American people and announce an amnesty plan that he himself has said over and over again exceeds his constitutional authority, he will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for congressional action on this issue, and many others,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said.

 

Sen Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., noted, however, that Republican in Congress never expressed such outrage when President Ronald Reagan legalized 3 million immigrants in 1986 or when President George H.W. Bush halted deportations of more than 1.5 million people.

 

“I’ll tell you, President Bush’s Family Fairness policy, the executive action he took, was sweeping,” Boxer said. “It affected more than 40 percent of the undocumented population in the United States at the time. He thought big, George Bush Sr., he thought big. And this president should think big.”

Category: News

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