Well, we tried to tell em, things we’re about to get ugly. Although we have to admit, we couldn’t have possibly predicted the turn of events that have occurred since the vote, but then, who could?
Headlines from previous articles from local newspapers read, “Downtown Divided…” But that was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the rumors, speculation, tyranny, secret alliances, pledged allegiances, and hidden betrayals the political strain of this vote had put on the people of Downtown. READ ‘Fight for Skid Row: Part One”
To recap, we met with General Jeff Page, chair of the Skid Row Formation Committee just two days before the election he had spent 2 years spearheading. An election that would decide if Skid Row, a disenfranchised district inside the ever-booming economy of Downtown Los Angeles would be allowed to subdivide from DLANC, downtown’s heavy hitters of neighborhood council vets.
Page, who himself had been an active member of DLANC for 6 years, but an even more active member of Skid Row for the better of 14, with the help of other community supporters, had encouraged over 700 eligible voters to take an active role in the future of their community by voting yes for SRNC, which could give businesses and residents inside the borders of Main Street and Alameda/3rd and 7th a bit more say to what developments and monies were allotted, and to whom, when it came to the future of the undeveloped region.
Yet, Skid Row was a bit of a shanty town. A place where most were left to their own devices and a place with many names; The last resort. The giveaway zone. The Haunted Forest of Downtown. The drug dealers wonderland. Zombieville. Tent City. Crack-O-Rama. This Skid Row phenomenon, where non-profits, lawmen, criminals, families, and poverty merged under its own rule of laws (most of which that did not include jaywalking tickets) was up for grabs under the pressure of gentrification and the people who were too poor to be gentrified to anywhere else.
Whatever we call it, it is still home to many and with a growing population. For almost 100 years Skid Row has led the way as a recovery zone for countless Americans thanks to its humanitarian efforts and centralized social services.
Skid Row itself was a humanitarian cause. Food, clothes, shelter, medical needs – these were all pretty basic. And if one person was going without, then we were all going without. Being able to turn a blind eye, step over the homeless or divert the monies meant for them, for so many years, may have made some into hardcore downtown dwellers but it didn’t really speak loudly to our abilities to care for one another. We could do better. But who had the solution?
DLANC had their plan, Skid Row community leaders had theirs. And on April 6th, Downtown found out that more people wanted to stick with DLANC than allow the breakaway and formation of a new neighborhood city council,”S-RaNC”. Or did they?
Yes, the plot thickened like a bowl of cold cheese grits. The votes that counted over 800 in favor of keeping DLANC intact would soon be in question because of some mystery emails sent by…DLANC?
Page took his evidence and protested the outcome to election officials and a few weeks later, the heads of DLANC found themselves in front of another commission to explain away the mystery emails sent by a group calling itself “United DTLA” that had somehow, according to DLANC, snuck its way into the DLANC MailChimp account and used DLANCs massive email list and logo to illegally persuade Downtown stakeholders to vote “NO” to the formation of S-RaNC.
That and a few other challenges, with one in respects to the new online voting system that could have made it impossible for S-RaNC to win. Presumingly noting that far less than 800 stakeholders outside Skid Row borders would dare enter Skid Row, only to wait hours in line at the polls, unprotected on a workday, regardless of what was at stake. Did anyone else see the guy passed out on the curb in front of the lines at the Skid Row pollings place on the news? Better yet, did anyone see the lines?
The people of Skid Row proved that day they really wanted this, but now they would have to challenge the outcome, accuse DLANC of cheating and convince the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) that the election would have had a different outcome if left only to rules that had been used in the past to establish a breakaway council. Rules that seemed to have changed overnight just in time for the election and for the panel review.
So there they were, General Jeff and Skid Row community members standing in front of a three-person panel on May 3rd, made of other neighborhood councils around Los Angeles, doing their best to tie DLANC officials to less than honorable practices. These practices that could by recommendations from the panel, influence DONE to hold another election or overturn the results and establish S-RaNC and General Jeff as its founder, forever.
Who sent the emails? “All roads lead back to DLANC” proclaimed General Jeff, with DLANC President/hardballer Patricia Berman simply replying, in other words, “Prove it!”
Shucks, how do you prove something like that? Whatever it would take, DONE didn’t want to have anything to do with it. Even, after the 3 person panel decided to uphold Jeff’s challenges, and what seemed like a definite victory to the roar of a mostly Skid Rowian crowd, DONE came back with a letter two weeks later which basically stated they had no interest in honoring the recommendations of the panel or investigating the subdivision challenges any further. In other words “What’s DONE is DONE!”
And to that, we have an official statement from General Jeff on behalf of Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee stating, “The SRNC Formation Committee will consider pursuing a case in the courts. We’re seeking appropriate legal representation. Skid Row is not done.”