Thursday, June 30, 2005

Score one for the good guys !

The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles reinstated Karla Gomez to the Section 8 program after last week's column prompted many readers to call the HACLA themselves and note their outrage. The power of the people prevails!

Mayor Yawn's farewell, as imagined by Mariel

The mayor's final presentation before the Los Angeles was they typical uneventful lovefest. So, I made up something much more fun for this week's column. Read it here

Friday, June 24, 2005

People are good

Sometimes I forget that's mostly true. My faith in people has been restored in the past two days. Many readers of Wednesday's column took it upon themselves to call or write housing authority officials, the HUD office, U.S. Attorney's office, congress men and our two U.S. Senators to register their outrage over the treatment of Karla Gomez. All for someone they never met.

Here's part of what a reader name Ken wrote to me:
I called the Housing Authority this afternoon and the only one who seemed to be available was your friend Hugo Garcia. I told him how outrageous I thought that their actions were. His response was that they are "looking at it." I told him that was not good enough and asked him pointedly what his agency is doing to put these people back where they belong. He was quite evasive, but ultimately said that it was not up to him, but up to people higher than him. When I asked who had to authority to fix this, he would not name anyone specific. Finally, I asked for Rudolph Montel, who is apparently the Director, but was told that he was not in.Someone really needs to get on these people. Their indifference at how they disrupt people's lives is mind boggling. As one who worked for a governmental agency for almost 28 years I have seen a lot of this, but this one is more egregious, as well as more disruptive, than most. I finally told him that I was going to call the Attorney General.

Another reader in Mid-Wilshire area, Geneva Johnson called to tell me that she was a Section 8 landlord and had dealt with the same Housing Authority caseworker, Araceli Meza. Geneva found her to be rude, flippant and prone to mistakes. "You can quote me,'' she said. I am.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


I got somewhat outraged for this week's column. A single mom in the HUD housing program got dumped from section 8. Not because she was a crack dealer, but because she misunderstood the confusing rules of the government agency during a emergency relocation after her place was damaged by this winter's rains. Either that, or was mislead by her caseworker. After the stories I've heard about the Housing Authority of Los Angeles, I wouldn't disbelieve that. Now, she's about to be out on the street with her young son. Your taxpayer dollars at work.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A shock in Indianapolis

It was hot and muggy and then it rained. That's the Midwest for you. I spent a long weeekend getting indoctrinated into the ways of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ good! Must recruit.) at the University Place Hotel in Indianapolis. Two things that are universal about journalists: they can talk about the biz until people's ears bleed and they love to eat. To the credit of SPJ, they fed us copious amounts of delicious food and provided ample opportunity for chatting about the biz.

Before the start of the conference, and operating on virtually no sleep, I took a tour of downtown Indy. It was charming, if disturbingly empty. I particularly liked the canals between downtown and the UIPIU, which is the university my hotel's name makes reference to.

My visit to the state house was the subject of this week's column.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

No column for you!

Sorry, I'm half on vacation this week, half working like a maniac to be able to take time off for dual trips to Monterrey for wedding last weekend and Indiananpolis, city of my birth, tomorrow.

It's true. I am a hoosier.

Many are surprised to find out I wasn't born in a small Oaxacan (can you say WA-HOCK-AN?) village and then crawled through a rat-infested sewer pipe in order to steal the good jobs from legal residents, such as cleaning the McMansions of rich Beverly Hills socialites for $3 an hour or swabbing out the mensroom at Hooters for five bucks a day. Indeed was born right here in the good ole' Midwest, the child of one legal resident and one actual citizen. So, telling me to go back to Mexico --as so many of my loving readers do with enthusiasm and regularity -- makes about as much sense as telling me to go back to Spain in the 15th century. I just can't do it!

Now I am going to visit this home I haven't seen since I was just a toddler, courtesy of an all-expenses paid trip to the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute for Naughty Reporters (or something like that) where I will be punished with three days of workshops, rubber chicken dinners and some odd midwestern ritual called "duck bowling." Run Donald, run!

I am also going to be checking out the city, which is lauded for its urban renewal in the 1990s. I'm going to write about it next week, I think, unless the duck bowling turns dangerous and someone puts out an eye.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Mariel mailbox

The best part of my job (and sometimes the worst) is the reader mail I get. Here's a letter from one reader in the same boat as so many of us Gen X 30 types who want to do the grownup thing but can't afford it.

From Angelica and LA:
"We are leaving to NC in the near future also. Housing is out of our reach. Two decent regular type jobs with just about 83K before taxes (basically half that) with two car payments and rent in LA… forget about it. It will never become reality for us."

And a lament from Dan in Brooklyn:

"My wife and I make about 90,000 per year combined. I have two kids , one goes to college and we pay full tuitions, the other one is in the 8th grade. We can not afford anything around here and when I hear the politicians claiming that "more and more people
are buying houses" I go to the toilet and flush it! Where the hell are these people? My job is in New York and I want to stay here.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Goodbye Jean; hello home equity!

I hate that my good friend Jean is leaving LA because of housing prices. But I don't hate this crazy market. How could I? It's making this former poor kid rich! Or rich-ish. In this week's column, I exploit my friend's story. Read it here.