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Kinsey's Tenure at Rebuild L.A.

January 23, 1994

* Robert Scheer's interview with Bernard Kinsey (Commentary, Jan. 12) offers a view of RLA's role in the rebuilding process which, while not exactly inaccurate, skews facts and figures. In at least two vital respects, the record must be balanced.

Buildings may have been rebuilt, but businesses and jobs haven't been rebuilt. That fact, coupled with rebuilt businesses which still are not economically viable, accounts for much of the severe economic hardship that grips most of the neighborhoods RLA was created to serve. RLA emphasized bricks and mortar as symbols of economic development. Business owners on the verge of bankruptcy and jobless residents of the riot-torn communities would assert that emphasis is misdirected.

Another troublesome aspect of Kinsey's analysis concerns the RLA loan fund. That fund was announced fully six months before RLA was prepared to accept applications for funds, a calendar which generated enormous frustration. Worse, the fund finances only business expansion. Destroyed businesses seeking to rebuild are defined as "start-up" applications and given lower priority than businesses that were not destroyed. Moreover, much of the capital in the fund was donated and was therefore cost-free, but RLA charges prime interest rates plus up to four additional percentage points for direct loans. The result, however unintentional, discourages applications, limits the potential for job creation, and abandons small businesses which had the misfortune to be entirely destroyed.

The economic emergency faced by the merchants and families, neighborhoods and former workers as a result of the unrest 20 months ago continues unabated. There is no doubt Kinsey tried to help. We wish him well as he joins our efforts outside RLA's structure.

BONG HWAN KIM

Executive Director

Korean Youth and Community Center

PATRICE WONG

General Manager

Alliance for Neighborhood Economic

Development, KYCC

Los Angeles

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