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Elected Officials, Community Groups Formed Partnership

September 12, 1993

Congratulations to City Times for its coverage of the critical public safety problems related to South-Central liquor stores ("The Battle Over the Bottle," Aug. 29). However, I must point out a side of the story that was omitted.

A year before the uprising, City Council representatives Mark Ridley-Thomas and Rita Walters played a leadership role on this issue and established a strong partnership with community organizations and residents.

Ironically, the night before the uprising, a meeting was taking place at the field office of Ridley-Thomas with the mayor's office to identify the worse stores and develop solutions. Walters was the author of the section of the rebuilding ordinance that allowed for the inclusion of community residents' input on how stores would be rebuilt.

Ridley-Thomas included substance abuse issues in his campaign platform and has consistently considered them a priority in his administration. Ridley-Thomas led the fight in council chambers to include public safety as a key environmental concern in South Los Angeles. The debate resulted in the four worst stores being required to have extensive environmental reviews before rebuilding permits could be issued. Prior to this, environmental scrutiny was reserved for the traffic and tall-building concerns of the more affluent Westside.

Ridley-Thomas also co-sponsored city legislation waiving sewage-connection fees so liquor store owners could convert their businesses to self-service laundries.

Examples of how ineffective and unresponsive elected officials are fill the news. It is time we highlight an example of how partnerships between the community and their elected representatives can produce positive results.

KAREN BASS

Executive Director, Community Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment

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