Last night, Occupy Los Angeles received an offer from the City of Los Angeles. Nothing has been submitted to us in writing (publicly), but to my understanding, the City of LA is offering 10,000 feet of underground office space for a $1 a year lease rate. They are also saying they will provide shelter for the homeless.
One of my colleagues wrote an extremely informed statement about why he thinks we at Occupy LA are going to reject this offer. I just want to share it with you since the Mainstream Media is still not at a point to provide us with fair media coverage.
So many wonderful things are accomplished on a daily basis at OLA. It disappoints me that members from the Mainstream media do not make an effort to attend committee meetings at OLA, all of which are posted with their names, meeting times, days and locations on our website at www.occupylosangeles.org
Until we receive fair mainstream media coverage, I will continue to post blogs about what is happening within the movement. I encourage any and all of you to participate in the democratic processes of whatever community you live in, by checking out the website of your local Occupy Movement and attending a committee meeting that interests you.
Here is what Michael Novick wrote about L.A. City's offer to OLA yesterday
People need to understand that this "offer" is about more than the city wanting their lawn back. They want us to leave without their fingerprints on it; they want if possible to split us. They are under Homeland Security pressure to shut us down like the other occupations, but I still believe they fear a situation that will spiral out of control if they move in with force, because of the history of mass rebellions in L.A., the proximity of 18,000 homeless people on Skid Row, and the fact that LA is one of cities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. They are afraid that a blow-up downtown will screw up their attempt to bring the NFL to so-called "Farmers' Field" near Staples/LA Live. AEG has bought off everyone at City Hall, and the stadium is a big anchor for their gentrification plans.
The "offer" is specifically and explicitly a "carrot and stick" -- move and take the office and a place to live or farm, or stay and get busted. Lafferty clearly laid it out that way to us. So that's clearly a divide and conquer approach. But the offer also represents the state's weakness and the Occupy movement's strength because so many people identify with our stance of opposition to corporate greed, government corruption, and concentration of wealth at the expense of the rights and needs of the 99%. This "offer" would specifically try to undercut that by making it look like the occupation is about the needs or desires of the occupiers.
The "counter-proposal" needs to be a rejection of the 'politics of the deal' that got us into this mess, and an assertion of what the communities of this city need.
The city should not just house the unhoused who have been camping in Occupy LA, but make serious plans for a "housing is a human right" solution to homelessness, foreclosures, gentrification, slumlord exploitation of tenants, and the privatization of public housing. The city has no power over the foreclosure process, but they can pull their money out of banks, and pressure the Board of Supes and the Sheriffs to stop evicting people in foreclosure. the city can institute rent control and slap fines on slumlords.
The city should not just give the occupiers a couple of plots of land to farm, but should restore the land of the South Central Farm so the farmers can rebuild and regrow.
The city should not just recognize the free speech rights of protesters in Occupy LA, and quite dramatically reign in the police in so doing, but should reign in the police 24/7 on the streets of the city by establishing a system of community control of the police. Rcops to carry 'malpractice insurance' so that cops sued for brutality won't have the city bailing them out financially by paying off settlements as a cost of doing business, but will require the cops' insurance to cover it. The premiums will quickly become prohibitive for egregious cops. Create a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute cases of police abuse. Right now, the cops investigate themselves, and the City Attorney and DA who rely on the cops to make all their other cases have the responsibility to bring law enforcement lawbreakers to trial. As we saw in the Mehserle case for killing Oscar Grant, that usually results in poor prosecution if there is any at all.
The city should not just lower back the fares on the DASH buses it controls (raised twice in the last year or two) through the LA Department of Transportation, but the Mayor should use his clout on the board of the MTA to restore cuts in bus service to the levels that existed back when the MTA was under a civil rights consent decree to fund adequate levels of bus service to predominantly Black and Mexicano/indigenous poor people.
The mayor should also use his influence on the LAUSD school board to break the school-to-prison pipeline, reign in the LA School Police Dept, cut class sizes and end the giveaways of public schools to private interests.
The city so concerned about the trees and landscape at city hall should commit to planting trees and building parks in all the poor and underserved neighborhoods of this city, which have some of the worst green space-to-resident ratios of any big city, and community gardens at every school in LAUSD.
Let the city put its professed support for the ideals of the Occupy movement into practice by limiting lobbyists, eliminating corporate and private cash in elections, etc., and by extending the electoral franchise to all legal residents of the city (regardless of citizenship status) as other cities, for example Takoma Park MD, have done. There are many tens of thousands of legal non-citizen residents of LA who would give force to these demands in the electoral arena and should be able to. No taxation without representation, as some Bostonians once said. Lack of federal citizenship is not a barrier to municipal voting eligibility.
Widely publicizing such a counter-proposal would help to cement the popular understanding that the Occupation represents the tip of the iceberg and stands for the concerns, demands and interests of millions of people.
Supporters of the proposal last night kept saying that accepting the offer would free us or enable to do community organizing, and make our movement permanent. Our permanence will be based, not on an office space, but on the relationships with the rest of the communities of Los Angeles and beyond. This is already happening through the activities of the occupation. The port action/general strike preparation committee has been working and meeting and talking with Occupy Long Beach, Occupy San Pedro, and many other occupations locally and regionally, but also residents of the harbor area, port truck drivers, unions, students and have plans to expand that effort dramatically in building for Dec. 12 in the next few weeks but then moving beyond that to work towards a real General Strike in L.A. (and beyond) on May 1. Occupy the Hood has been meeting in East LA/Boyle Heights, Inglewood and many other parts of the city. There is nothing to prevent more projects and committees from doing the same, whether we stay or go."